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CPSC Proposes Three Areas for Reducing Third-Party Testing

During the Senate confirmation hearing for incoming CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye and Commissioner Joe Mohorovic, Senator John Thune (R-SD) asked each candidate what the CPSC could do to reduce the burden of Third-Party testing for manufacturers and importers of children’s products. In response to the Senator Thune questioning, both Chairman Kaye and Commissioner Mohorovic submitted a joint letter outlining three areas of focus for the Commission to reduce the burden of testing.

  1. Expanding the CPSC’s “determinations” for lead to include the other seven (7) heavy metals that are required for testing under ASTM F963-11. A CPSC determination exempts certain materials from testing based on either scientific data or consistent third-party test results which demonstrate that the heavy element(s) do not naturally occur in the material. Currently for lead materials such as wood, CMYK inks, natural and synthetic fibers are exempt from lead testing. These materials and perhaps others would be expanded to include the other seven (7) heavy metals.
  2. Research and compare other international standards such as ISO 8124 or EN-71 to current US Standards such as ASTM F963-11 for “equivalency” in testing methods and safety standards. If found to be equivalent, then manufacturers or importers who have previously tested their products to these standards would not need to test their products to the equivalent U.S. Standards.
  3. Producing guidance for the allowance of “de minimis” third-party testing exemptions where the area requiring testing on the product has a mass weight of less than 10 mg would require testing. While these very small areas on the product would still need to comply with any applicable chemical content limits, the CPSC would not require testing to demonstrate compliance.

While the Chairman and Commissioner did not give a timeline for beginning the process of implementing the points outlined in the letter, it is expected to be a “hot button” for Senator Thune who is expected to become the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in the next Congress which oversees the CPSC.

CPSC Workshop April 3 – Potential Ways To Reduce Third Party Testing Costs Through Material Determinations Consistent with Assuring Compliance

Potential Ways to Reduce Third Party Testing Costs Through Material Determinations Consistent with Assuring Compliance:           cpsc logo

CPSC Workshop – April 3, 2014 

Tomorrow, beginning at 9 am, CPSC staff will hold a workshop on potential ways to reduce third party testing costs, to be held at CPSC’s National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Rockville, Maryland. You may find out more information and attend by registering here or you may watch the webcast at www.cpsc.gov/live (Note: Viewers will not be able to interact with the panels and presenters.)  Written comments may also be submitted by April 17, 2014. The goal of the workshop is to provide CPSC staff with information and evidence concerning possible Commission determinations that certain materials will comply with applicable safety standards with a high degree of assurance and without requiring third party testing.  Staff would like to emphasize that the workshop will focus on technical questions and information as detailed in the FR notice.

 

 

CPSC Issues Final Rule Safety Standard Soft Infant Toddler Carriers

The CPSC has issued a Final Rule on the Safety Standard for Soft Infant and Toddler Carriers, 16 CFR 1226 on March 28, 2014. This final rule will become effective on September 29, 2014 and apply to products manufactured or imported on or after that date. The ASTM standard for Soft Infant and Toddler Carriers, ASTM F2236-14, which was released on January 1, 2014, incorporates all the new mandatory requirements of the Final Rule.Front Soft Carriers

ASTM F2236-14’s definition of a “soft infant and toddler carrier” distinguishes soft infant and toddler carriers from other types of infant carriers that are also worn by a caregiver but that are not covered under ASTM F-2236-14, specifically slings (including wraps), and framed backpack carriers.

Soft infant and toddler carriers are designed to carry a child in an upright position. Slings are designed to carry a child in a reclined position. However, some slings may also be used to carry a child upright. The primary distinction between a sling and a soft infant and toddler carrier is that a sling allows for carrying a child in a reclined position. Different hazard patterns arise from carrying a child in a reclined position. Accordingly, slings are not covered by the standard for soft infant and toddler carriers.

Like soft infant and toddler carriers, framed backpack carriers are intended to carry a child in an upright position. However, framed backpack carriers are distinguishable from soft infant and toddler carriers because typically, backpack carriers are constructed of sewn fabric over a rigid frame and are intended solely for carrying a child on the caregiver’s back.

ASTM F2236-14 includes the following key provisions: scope, terminology, general requirements, performance requirements, test methods, marking and labeling, and instructional literature.

Scope

The scope of the voluntary standard was broadened in December 2012 to include soft infant and toddler carriers with an upper weight limit of up to 45 pounds. Previously, it was unclear whether carriers with upper weight limits over 25 pounds fell within the standard. Expanding the scope of the standard clarifies that all soft infant and toddler carrier products currently on the market fall within the standard.

Terminology

Section 3.1 of the standard includes 14 definitions to help explain general requirements and performance requirements. Section 3.1.7 of the standard explains that a “leg opening” is the “opening in the soft carrier through which the occupant’s legs extend when the product is used in the manufacturer’s recommended use position.” Sections 3.1.4 and 3.1.13 of ASTM F2236-14, respectively, explain that a “dynamic load” is the “application of impulsive force through free fall of a weight,” and that a “static load” is a “vertically downward force applied by a calibrated force gage or by dead weights.” Beginning in 2012, the standard included a new definition for “carrying position” to clarify methods for dynamic and static load testing in section 7 of the standard. Finally, in 2013, the standard was updated to include a new definition for “fastener” to aid in a new test for fastener strength and strap retention.

General Requirements

ASTM F2236-14 includes general requirements that the products must meet, as well as specified test methods to ensure compliance with the general requirements, which include:

  • restrictions on sharp points or edges, as defined by 16 CFR §§ 1500.48 and .49;
  • restrictions on small parts, as defined by 16 CFR part 1501;
  • restrictions on lead in paint, as set forth in 16 CFR part 1303;
  • requirements for locking and latching devices;
  • requirements for permanent warning labels;
  • restrictions on flammability, as set forth in 16 CFR part 1610;
  • requirements for toy accessories, as set forth in ASTM F 963.

The flammability requirement in section 5.7 of the standard was changed, beginning with ASTM F2236-13, from a flammable solids requirement (16 CFR 1500.3(c)(6)(vi)), to meet the more stringent flammability requirement for wearing apparel (16 CFR part 1610). Adopting the wearing apparel flammability requirement in the soft infant and toddler standard makes it consistent with other wearable infant carriers made of sewn fabric, such as slings, to prevent a foreseeable fire hazard in all wearable infant carriers.

Performance Requirements and Test Methods

ASTM F2236-14 provides performance requirements and test methods that are designed to protect against falls from the carrier due to large leg openings, breaking fasteners or seams, and straps that slip, including:

Leg Openings

Tested leg openings must not permit passage of a test sphere weighing 5 pounds that is 14.75 inches in circumference.

Dynamic and Static Load

Beginning with the 2012 version of ASTM F2236, the dynamic load test was strengthened from requiring a 25-pound shot bag to be dropped, free fall, from 1 inch above the seat area onto the carrier seat 1,000 times, to requiring testing with a 25-pound shot bag, or a shot bag equal to the manufacturer’s maximum occupant weight limit, whichever is heavier. Additionally, the static load test was revised—from requiring a 75-pound weight for testing—to requiring a 75-pound weight, or a weight equal to three times the manufacturer’s recommended maximum occupant weight, whichever is greater, to be placed in the seat area of the carrier for 1 minute. Such revisions to the dynamic and static load tests strengthen the test requirements, by requiring that products with a maximum recommended weight of 45 pounds be tested to a 135-pound weight instead of 75 pounds, which represents an 80 percent increase in the severity of the requirement.

ASTM F2236-14 requires that testing conducted with the new required loads must not result in a “hazardous condition,” as defined in the general requirements, or result in a structural failure, such as fasteners breaking or disengaging, or seams separating when tested in accordance with the dynamic and static load testing methods. Additionally, the standard provides that dynamic and static load testing must not result in adjustable sections of support/shoulder straps slipping more than 1 inch per strap from their original adjusted position after testing.

Section 6.2.2 of the standard on Support/Shoulder Strap Slippage was modified beginning with ASTM F2236-13a. The modification clarifies what constitutes passing or failing the strap slippage test. Section 6.2.2 was amended to state: “Adjustable sections of support/shoulder straps shall not slip, in a manner that loosens the strap, more than 1 in. (25 mm) per strap from their original adjusted position after dynamic and static load testing is performed in accordance with 7.2.1 and 7.2.2, respectively.” The amendment allows straps to tighten during testing but not loosen more than 1 inch, which is the intent of the testing.

Fastener Strength and Strap Retention

ASTM F2236-14 includes a new component-level performance requirement that was added to the standard in 2013 to evaluate the strength of fasteners and strap retention to help prevent falls from a carrier. Previously, soft infant and toddler carriers were recalled due to an occupant fall hazard caused by broken fasteners that passed the static and dynamic performance requirements in the then existing standard, ASTM F2236-10. Accordingly, the performance requirement in section 6.4 of ASTM F2236-14 states that load-bearing fasteners at the shoulder and waist of soft infant and toddler carriers, such as buckles, loops, and snaps, may not break or disengage; nor may their straps slip more than 1 inch when subjected to an 80-pound pull force. Adjustable leg opening fasteners must also be tested but are subjected to lower loads, a 45-pound pull force, because these fasteners do not carry the same load as fasteners at the shoulders and waist. ASTM F2236-14 requires that when tested, fasteners must not break or disengage, and adjustable elements must not slip more than 1 inch.

Similar to the strap slip requirement in the static and dynamic load testing section of the standard, ASTM also clarified the strap slip section of the fastener strength test section in ASTM F2236-13a. Sections 6.4.1 and 6.4.2 were amended to state: “Each unique fastener, except for leg opening adjustment fasteners as tested per 6.4.2, shall not break or disengage, and adjustable elements in straps shall not slip , in a manner that loosens the strap, more than 1 in. (2.5 cm) . . . .” This amendment allows straps to tighten during testing but not to loosen more than 1 inch, which is the intent of the testing.

Additionally, Note 1 to section 6.4 of the standard provides that the fastener strength and strap retention testing apply only to load-bearing fasteners. ASTM F2236-13 stated: “Fasteners intended to retain items such as, but not limited to, hoods, bibs and toy rings, are exempt from these requirements.” ASTM approved two changes to the language in Note 1 to clarify that several non-load-bearing features, “sleeping hoods” and “head adjustment fasteners,” are included in the list of examples exempted from fastener strength testing when such features are non-load-bearing. Note 1 in section 6.4 of ASTM F2236-14 now provides that: “Fasteners intended to retain items such as, but not limited to, sleeping hoods, head adjustment fasteners, bibs and toy rings, are exempt from these requirements.”

Unbounded Leg Opening

The voluntary standard was updated in 2013 to clarify the unbounded leg opening test procedure to improve test repeatability. ASTM F2236-14 requires that an unbounded leg opening must not allow complete passage of a truncated test cone that is 4.7 inches long, with a major diameter of 4.7 inches and a minor diameter of 3 inches. The standard requires a test cone to be pulled through the leg opening with a 5-pound force for 1 minute.

Marking, Labeling, and Instructional Literature

ASTM F2236-14 requires that each product and its retail package be marked or labeled with certain information and warnings. The warning label requirement was updated in 2013 to address fall and suffocation hazards. ASTM F2236-14 requires that the warning label provide a fall hazard statement addressing that infants can fall through wide leg openings or out of the carrier. The standard requires the following fall-related precautionary statements be addressed on the warning label: Adjust leg openings to fit baby’s legs snugly; before each use, make sure all [fasteners/knots] are secure; take special care when leaning or walking; never bend at waist, bend at knees; only use this carrier for children between _ lbs. and _ lbs. Additionally, ASTM F2236-14 requires that a suffocation hazard statement must address the fact that infants under 4 months old can suffocate in the carrier if the child’s face is pressed tightly against the caregiver’s body. The standard requires that the warning label must also address the following suffocation-related precautionary statements: Do not strap infant too tightly against your body; allow room for head movement; keep infant’s face free from obstructions at all times. Products must also contain an informational statement that a child must face toward the caregiver until heor she can hold his or her head upright. All products are required to come with instructional literature on assembly, use, maintenance, cleaning, and required warnings.

ASTM F2236-14 includes an example warning label that identifies more clearly the hazards, the consequences of ignoring the warning, and how to avoid the hazards. The label format was designed to communicate more effectively these warnings to the caregiver (Fig. 1). Manufacturers may alter the rectangular shape of the label to fit on shoulder straps, if the manufacturer chooses not to place label in the occupant space. However, the standard requires that the label be placed in a prominent and conspicuous location, where the caregiver will see the label when placing the soft infant and toddler carrier on their body.

Unsure how this might impact your product or future product development? Contact us today to see how we can help. info@jacobysolutions.com or 866-873-7335 ext. 101

 

CPSC Issues Final Rule for the Safety Standard of Bedside Sleepers

Co-SleeperThe CPSC issued a Final Rule for the Safety Standard of Bedside Sleepers on January 15, 2014 with an effective date of July 15, 2014. The rule incorporates the voluntary standard developed by ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials), ASTM F2906-13, “Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bedside Sleepers” (ASTM F2906-13), by reference, and requires bedside sleepers to be tested to 16 CFR part 1218, the Safety Standard for Bassinets and Cradles (bassinet standard). ASTM F2906-13 defines “bedside sleeper” as “a rigid frame assembly that may be combined with a fabric or mesh assembly, or both, used to function as sides, ends, or floor or a combination thereof, and that is intended to provide a sleeping environment for infants and is secured to an adult bed.” A “multi-mode product” is “a unit that is designed and intended to be used in more than one mode (for example, a play yard, bassinet, changing table, hand held carrier, or bedside sleeper).” A bedside sleeper is intended to be secured to an adult bed to permit newborns and infants to sleep close by an adult without being in the adult bed. Bedside sleepers currently on the market have a horizontal sleep surface that typically is 1 inch to 4 inches below the level of the adult bed’s mattress. The side of the bedside sleeper that is adjacent to the adult bed can usually be adjusted to a lower position, a feature that differentiates bedside sleepers from bassinets, where all four sides of a bassinet are the same height. Current bedside sleepers range in size from about 35″ x 20″ to 40″ x 30.″ Bedside sleepers may have rigid sides, but they are most commonly constructed with a tube frame covered by mesh or fabric. Bedside sleepers are intended for use with children up to the developmental stage where they can push up on hands and knees (about 5 months). This is the same developmental range for the intended users of bassinets. Several manufacturers produce multiuse (or multimode) bedside sleeper products that can convert into bassinets and/or play yards. Most bedside sleeper products can be converted into a bassinet by raising the lowered side to create four equal-height sides, and a few also convert into both a bassinet and play yard. Some play yards include bedside sleeper accessories, which when attached, convert the play yard into a bedside sleeper; and some bassinets convert into bedside sleepers. All of the tube-framed products that CPSC staff has evaluated may be collapsed for storage and transport. A bedside sleeper that can be used in additional modes would need to meet each applicable standard. For example, a bedside sleeper that converts to a bassinet must meet the bedside sleeper standard and the bassinet standard. The CPSC has proposed to adopt by reference, ASTM International’s voluntary standard, ASTM F2906-12, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bedside Sleepers, with a few additions to strengthen the standard.

  • § 5.1Prior to or immediately after testing to this consumer safety specification, the bedside sleeper must be tested to 16 CFR part 1218. Multimode products must also be tested to each applicable standard. When testing to 16 CFR part 1218, the unit shall be freestanding, and not be secured to the test platform, as dictated elsewhere in this standard.
  • § 5.1.1The bassinet minimum side height shall be as required in 16 CFR part 1218, with the exception of a lowered side rail as permitted in § 5.4.Show citation box
  • § 7.1All bedside sleeper products shall comply with the marking and labeling requirements of 16 CFR part 1218.
  • § 8.1All bedside sleeper products shall comply with the instructional literature requirements of 16 CFR part 1218

Time for Small Batch Manufacturers to Reapply for Exemption for 2014

Small Batch Registration Deadline

 

NOTE that if you are a registered small batch manufacturer with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for calendar year 2013 and you wish to continue in this status, you must register again for calendar year 2014.  Registration must be submitted annually.  On or about December 1st, 2013, the CPSC will release instructions on how to renew your registration.

 

If you qualify and if you are a manufacturer of children’s products and produce in small batches, it is critical that you register for a small batch exemption if your sales are less than 1 million dollars from the previous calendar year or you have manufactured less than 7,500 qualifying (children’s products) units. See the CPSC website for details relating to your product.

If you are a new company  and new to this subject matter, you may have this question. Are small batch manufacturers currently required to third party test their children’s products in order to certify compliance to applicable regulations?

 It depends on the children’s product and the materials used to manufacture that children’s product.

Small batch manufacturers must always third party test for the following children’s product safety rules (Group A):

Qualifying small batch manufacturers are NOT required to third party test for compliance with certain other children’s product safety rules. Note, however, that all manufacturers, even those that are small batch manufacturers, must ensure that their children’s products are in compliance with the underlying children’s product safety rules in Group B and issue a general certificate of conformity (GCC)

Qualifying small batch manufacturers registered with the Commission are NOT required to third party test for the following children’s product safety rules (Group B):

With respect to Group B, qualifying small batch manufacturers will need to ensure that the products comply with those regulations and issue a general certificate of conformity (GCC).

As a qualifying small batch manufacturer, you will need to register with the CPSC on an annual basis.  You can visit the CPSC page for more information. Ignorance of the law is no excuse so please register today.

New Federal Safety Standard for Bassinets and Cradles Approved by CPSC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To prevent deaths and injuries to children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved a new federal mandatory standard to improve the safety of bassinets and cradles.  The vote was 4 to 1. The new federal standard incorporates provisions in the voluntary standard (ASTM F2194-13), Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bassinets and Cradles. CPSC staff recommended five modifications to F2194-13 standard. These modifications address risks not adequately covered by the voluntary standard. The modifications include:

  1. a clarification of the scope of the bassinet/cradle standard;
  2. a change to the pass/fail criterion for the mattress flatness test;                                          Bassinet
  3. an exemption from the mattress flatness requirement for bassinets that are less than 15 inches across;
  4. the addition of a removable bassinet bed stability requirement; and
  5. a change to the stability test procedure, requiring the use of a newborn CAMI dummy rather than an infant CAMI dummy.

CPSC received notice of 426 incidents involving bassinet/cradles, including 132 fatalities from November 2007 through March 2013. The new standard defines “bassinet/cradle” as a small bed designed primarily to provide sleeping accommodations for infants, supported by free standing legs, a stationary frame or stand, a wheeled base, a rocking base, or swing relative to a stationary base. In a stationary (non-rocking or swinging) position, a bassinet/cradle is intended to have a sleep surface less than or equal to 10 degrees from horizontal. A bassinet/cradle is not intended to be used beyond the age of about 5 months or when a child is able to push up on his hands and knees. Bassinet and cradle attachments for non-full-size cribs or play yards are considered to be part of the bassinet/cradle category, as are bedside sleepers that can be converted to four-sided bassinets not attached to a bed. The effective date for the mandatory bassinet/cradle standard is 6 months after the final rule is published in theFederal Register. Manufacturers are allowed an additional 12 months to comply with the provision for removable bassinet beds.

Notes from the Recent CPSC Safety Academy 2013

During the recent CPSC Safety Academy held in Seattle, WA this month, there was a presentation given by Carol Cave, the SafetyAcademy2013Assistant Executive Director (AED) of the Office of Import Surveillance and John Blachere, an International Trade Specialist in the Office of Import Surveillance for the CPSC on how the CPSC reviews shipments at ports.

With the expansion of the tariff codes, the CPSC has the ability to target shipments with either high profile product groups, which may have experienced recalls or manufacturers who may have had problem products in the past.  Based on this system, there were over 2 million shipments that were eligible for examination and out of these only 1,400 (0.070%) were detained with an average detention time of 13.4 days.

The products detained included; Toys (55%), Fireworks (14%), Clothing (9%), Holiday Light Sets (3%), Other Electrical Products (5%) and All Others (14%).  Most of these products entered the United States by Sea (86%) with the other categories being; Rail (2%), Truck (6%) and Air (6%).

Of the 1,400 shipments stopped for examination 77% (1,022) were found to have violations with 61% (622) of those requiring seizure.  These shipments were over the period from October 1, 2011 to September 5, 2013.

Of those violations that required seizure, the number one reason was for lead (34%) followed by a mechanical hazard (15%).  While all of this was interesting, most of this information has been issued throughout the year in CPSC press releases.  What was interesting was that during the QA portion of the presentation a question came up with regard to Children’s Product Certificates.  The question was, how did the CPSC observe company’s complying with the requirement of certificates “accompanying each shipment”?

Carol and John both said that certificates were either physically with the products (in the containers themselves), included with the importation documents submitted by brokers or in a unique URL printed on the invoice, PO or other importation document.

They were then asked if they stopped and seized shipments strictly for not having a certificate for which they responded no.  However,  they did say that beginning in the fiscal year 2014 they will be looking to see if the shipment does have a proper certificate.  This means that even if the shipment has passed the examination for chemical or physical hazard, the shipment can still be help up for a documentation (certificate) violation.

CPSC Safety Academy to be held Sept 18th

CPSC to hold 2nd Annual Safety Academy 

 logo with the words "Product Safety Through Education" The CPSC Safety Academy brings together CPSC staff and stakeholders, including manufacturers, consumer advocates, academic researchers and others to disseminate and share information on product safety topics. These topics include current regulatory requirements, testing and certification of children’s products, the mandatory toy standard, navigating compliance issues, the fast track recall program and others.

 

 

2013 Safety Academy

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is pleased to announce its 2013 Safety Academy. This year, the one-day academy will be held on the West coast in Seattle, Wash.

 

The academy will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2013, at the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building located at the Seattle Metro Service Center, 915 2nd Avenue, Seattle, Wash. 98174.

 

Agenda

 

CPSC Safety Academy Logistics 

 

Registration is closed; the maximum capacity for attendees has been reached.

 

The Safety Academy offers basic topics in the morning sessions designed for those unfamiliar with the CPSC and the agency’s regulations. Afternoon sessions present more complex topics. Regardless of a person’s level of familiarity with the CPSC, the Safety Academy is an opportunity to ask questions about regulations and procedures, and to meet with specialists and field staff.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  

Marc Schoem

Acting Director, Office of Education, Global Outreach, and Small Business Ombudsman

4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814

Phone:        301-504-7620

E-mail:       business@cpsc.gov

CPSC Issues Rule on Exemptions to Lead Limits in Children’s Products

On July 10, 2013, the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No CPSC-2009-0004] to amend its existing regulations pertaining to procedures and requirements for exclusions from lead limits under section 101(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).

The CPSIA provides a “functional purpose” exemption from the lead limits of Section 101 (or lead in substrate material) of 100 ppm.  This functional purpose exemption can apply to a specific product, class of products, type of material or component part.

To qualify for this functional purpose exemption the product, class of product, material or component part would have to require lead in excess of 100 ppm because it would not be practicable or technologically feasible to manufacture the product without lead in excess of the limit.

Exemptions can be issued based on how likely the product, class of product, material or component part could either be placed in the mouth, ingested or will have no measurable adverse effect on public heath, taking into consideration “normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse”.

If a party seeks exemption under this rule, they bear the “burden of proof” in demonstrating that product, class of product, material or component part meets the requirement of the exemption.  The CPSC may base its decision solely on the materials presented by the party seeking the exemption and any materials received through the notice and hearing.

If an exemption is sought for the entire product or class of products then every accessible component or material must meet the criteria of the functional purpose exception.

If the CPSC grants an exemption for a product, class of products, material or component part they may; establish a new lead limit, place an expiration date on the exemption or establish a schedule after which the manufacture of the product, class of product, material or component part would be in compliance with existing lead limits.

The CPSC anticipates providing the public with staff guidance on the applicable procedures for requesting an exemption, which will be made available on the CPSC website. The effective date of this rule is July 10, 2013.

 

 

Ross Stores Agrees to $3.9 Million Civil Penalty, Internal Compliance Improvements for Failure to Report Drawstrings in Children’s Upper Outerwear

Release Date: June 21, 2013

Release Number: 13-224

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

announced today that Ross Stores Inc., of Pleasanton, Calif., has agreed to

pay a $3.9 million civil penalty.  The penalty agreement has been accepted

provisionally by the Commission in a 3-0 vote.

 

The settlement resolves CPSC staff’s charges that from January 2009 to

February 2012, Ross knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as

required by federal law, that it sold or held for sale, about 23,000

children’s upper outerwear garments with drawstrings at the neck or waist.

In February 1996, CPSC issued guidelines (which were incorporated into a

consensus industry voluntary standard in 1997) to help prevent children from

strangling or getting entangled on neck and waist drawstrings in upper

garments, such as sweatshirts and jackets.

 

In May 2006, the Commission posted a letter on its website which stated that

staff considered children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or

neck to be defective and present a substantial risk of injury to young

children.   In July 2011, based on the 1996 CPSC guidelines and the 1997

voluntary standard, CPSC issued a final rule which designates the hazards

presented by drawstrings in children’s upper outerwear as substantial

product hazards.

 

Ross’s distribution of some children’s garments occurred during the same

period of time as CPSC’s investigation and negotiation of a 2009 civil

penalty.  The $500,000 penalty that Ross paid in 2009 was to settle staff

charges that it failed to report four series of children’s upper outerwear

drawstring garments distributed between 2006 and 2008.  Ross’s distribution

of the other garments in this matter occurred either partially or entirely

after the effective date of CPSC’s Final Rule. There have been no reported

injuries associated with the recalled garments.

 

In addition to paying a monetary penalty, Ross has agreed to implement and

maintain a compliance program designed to ensure compliance with the

reporting requirements of Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act

and the Final Rule.  Ross also agreed to enhance its existing compliance

policies by ensuring that its ongoing program contains written standards and

policies, a mechanism for confidential employee reporting of

compliance-related questions or concerns, and appropriate communication of

company compliance policies to all employees through training programs. Ross

has designed and implemented a system of internal controls and procedures to

ensure that the firm’s reporting to the Commission is timely, truthful,

complete, accurate, and in accordance with applicable law.  The company will

also take steps to ensure that prompt disclosure is made to management of

any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in the design or

operation of such internal controls.

 

The Commission, in cooperation with Ross and/or other firms that

manufactured, imported, or distributed the Garments, announced recalls of

the garments listed below between March 2010 and May 2012:

Manufacturer/Importer/Distributor/Retailer

 

Children’s Apparel Network, Ltd. Girls’ hooded sweater with neck

drawstrings

 

Byer California Girls’ cargo pocket jacket with neck and waist drawstrings

Puma North America Inc.     Youth training jacket with waist drawstrings

LA Fashion Hub Inc. Girls’ winter jacket with neck drawstrings

Umbro Boy’s jacket with waist drawstrings

Hot Chocolate Boy’s jogging suit with waist drawstrings

Bonded Apparel Boy’s Hooded jacket with neck drawstrings

Me Jane Louise Paris Ltd Girl’s fur hood bubble fleece with waist

drawstrings and Fur hooded bubble jacket with waist drawstrings

LANY Group LLC Girls’ terry hooded sweatshirt with neck drawstrings

YMI Jeanswear Girls’ hooded sweatshirt with neck drawstrings

 

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to

CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably

supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could

create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious

injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or

any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by CPSC.

 

In agreeing to the settlement, Ross denies staff charges that it knowingly

failed to inform the Commission about the garments, as required by CPSA

§15(b).

*****************************************************

Statement of Chairman Inez M. Tenenbaum on the Commission Decision to

Approve Provisionally a Civil Penalty Settlement with Ross Stores, Inc.

 

June 21, 2013

 

On June 19, 2013, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or the

Commission) provisionally approved a civil penalty settlement with retailer

Ross Stores, Inc., to resolve CPSC staff allegations that Ross committed

prohibited acts by failing to inform the Commission of Ross’s continued sale

of children’s garments with drawstrings, which pose a substantial risk of

injury to children due to the risk of entanglement and strangulation.  The

settlement requires Ross to pay a monetary penalty of $3.9 million and, just

as important, to take meaningful measures to reduce the risk of future

noncompliance through implementation of significantly enhanced compliance

procedures and internal controls.  After a review of the specific facts

presented in this case and a careful consideration of the civil penalty

factors, I voted to approve the settlement.

 

During my tenure as Chairman of the CPSC, my colleague Commissioner Robert

S. Adler and I have written together and separately regarding the need for

civil penalties to truly serve the policy objectives of deterring violations

and promoting compliance with the law, particularly in light of the

increased penalty amounts Congress authorized in the Consumer Product Safety

Improvement Act of 2008.  This settlement reflects the goals and importance

of our enhanced authorities, and I commend the CPSC staff for this result.

This settlement is also a reminder to the regulated community that the

Commission will use every tool at its disposal to keep consumers and their

families safe from unreasonable risks of injury.

 

Ross is a repeat violator.  In 2009, it paid a civil penalty of $500,000 for

violating the same law, Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act

(CPSA).  Neither the fine nor the supposed remedial measures Ross

implemented on its own initiative following that settlement was sufficient

to prevent the continued sale of defective garments.  Vendors who were

contractually obligated to provide compliant products continuously failed to

do so; internal policies prohibiting the purchase, inventory, and sale of

garments with drawstrings were equally ineffective.  Regardless of what

Ross’s management may have wanted to believe about the effectiveness of

their policies, they clearly did not work.  Moreover, the fact that Ross did

not design, manufacture, or import the garments did not relieve it of the

obligation to ensure that they comply with all applicable safety statutes

and regulations.

 

As part of this settlement, Ross has agreed to maintain a vastly improved

compliance program designed to prevent the sale of garments with drawstrings

and to ensure timely reporting, if necessary, under Section 15 of the CPSA.

This compliance program, similar to others the Commission has begun to

require as a warranted condition of settlement, includes the following key

elements: (i) written standards and policies, (ii) whistle-blower

protections, (iii) compliance training programs, (iv) management oversight

of compliance, and (v) five-year record retention requirements.

 

This case clearly demonstrates that policies cannot exist solely on paper;

individuals must be charged with and held accountable for carrying them out.

It is my hope and expectation that the message we are sending with the

substantial fine and the compliance requirements in this agreement will

increase the likelihood that Ross-and other firms-will not only make the

right decision next time they are confronted with whether to report a safety

issue, but also-and more importantly for consumer safety-will take all

necessary steps to ensure they produce and market only compliant products,

thus obviating the need for any reporting at all.