Obama Nominates former U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle as CPSC Commissioner

Obama Nominates Buerkle as CPSC Commissioner

By Bill Jacoby

The White House announced Thursday afternoon that President Barack Obama has nominated former U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle to serve on the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Ann Marie Buerkle is President Barack Obama’s newest nomination to sit on CPSC. A Republican, she is a former New York congresswoman who lost her seat in 2012. She was a a member of the House Tea Party Caucus and the Republican Study Committee. She sat on various subcommittees of the Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Government Reform, and Veterans Affairs committees. In 2011, Obama named her as a representative to the 66th UN General Assembly but she lost her reelection bid in 2012.

Prior to serving in Congress, she was an assistant attorney general for New York State from 1997 to 2009 and was in private practice from 1994 to 1997. She previously worked as a registered nurse. She has degrees from the St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing (1972), Le Moyne College (1977), and Syracuse University College of Law (1994).

Commissioner Nancy Nord is serving her extra year and leaves in October. Last year, Obama nominated Marietta Robinson, a Democrat, to fill Thomas Moore’s former seat with a term until 2017. Robinson received her Senate hearing a year ago and still awaits a confirmation vote. Speculation is that the Senate has been waiting to vote on a Republican and Democrat together.

Buerkle said one of her main tasks as a commissioner will be to uphold the federal Consumer Product Safety Act and to establish standards for products.

“What happens is if there’s a faulty product out there or someone has a complaint, they reach out to the commission,” she said. “So really it’s about consumer product safety and us upholding the law. The commission upholds the law and makes determinations about standards for products produced by manufacturers.”

Before serving on the commission, Buerkle must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, she will serve out the remaining time on a seven-year term  vacated by Anne Northup that expires in 2018.


Administrative Law Judge Issues Ruling in CPSC’s Attempt To Hold Magnet Manufacturer CEO Personally Liable

Tied to the recall of rare earth magnets, the CPSC was also seeking to have those products declared substantial product hazards and the CEO of one of those companies personally liable for conducting a recall. The Administrative Law Judge in this case has not issued his ruling that will impact corporate officers/owners of all children’s product manufacturers.


The liability of the CEO was based on the “responsible corporate officer doctrine” which was in turn based on U.S. Supreme Court decisions in United States v. Dotterweich, 320 U.S. 277 (1943) and United States v. Park, 421 U.S. 658 (1975). The administrative law judge held that the doctrine applied to violations of section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act. He further stated that the compliant was held sufficient facts to hold the CEO liable because it alleged that the CEO “is responsible for ensuring [the company’s] compliance with the CPSA.”

While written in broad language and not limited to the facts of the case, this ruling may have a profound effect on children’s products manufacturers. The CPSC will be able to threaten a variety of corporate officers from CEO’s/Owners to compliance officers, with personal liability for violations of the Consumer Product Safety Act.

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CPSC Approves Proposed Rule Aimed at Making Strollers Safer

CPSC Approves Proposed Rule Aimed at Making Strollers Safer

Published: Friday, May. 10, 2013 – 10:39 am

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2013 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — To help prevent further deaths and injuries to young children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted today to approve a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) to create a federal safety standard for strollers. The Commission voted unanimously (3-0) to approve publication of the NPR in the Federal Register.

The proposed stroller standard incorporates the published voluntary ASTM F833-13 standard,Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Carriages and Strollers, with one modification. The modification would require the addition of language in the standard to address scissoring, shearing, and pinching hazards associated with folding or foldable strollers.

CPSC staff reviewed more than 1,200 stroller-related incidents, including four fatalities and nearly 360 injuries that occurred from 2008 through 2012. Staff believes that the published standard, with the proposed addition in the NPR, will help to reduce the risks associated with the majority of the hazard patterns identified in reviewing the stroller incidents.

Hazard patterns found in strollers include:


  • wheel breakage and detachment;
  • parking brake and lock mechanism failures;stroller
  • hinge issues;
  • structural integrity issues;
  • entrapment;
  • car seat attachment;
  • canopy issues; and
  • handlebar failures.


Reported injuries include:


  • finger amputations on folding hinges and canopy hinges;
  • falls due to wheel detachment or parking brake issues;
  • injuries due to stroller collapse;
  • head entrapment in openings of travel systems; and
  • falls due to a child unbuckling the restraint harnesses.


The proposed rule would also help address finger injuries associated with the folding hinges on folding or foldable strollers. Various stroller types, such as travel systems, carriages, tandem, side-by-side, multi-occupant, and jogging strollers would be covered by the standard.

Staff recommends that the mandatory standard for strollers become effective 18 months following publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.

The proposed rule has a 75-day public comment period. Comments will be able to be posted directly on Regulations.gov.

The Commission is required under The Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, Section 104(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) to issue consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products.  To date, the Commission has approved more stringent federal safety standards for full-size cribs, non-full-size cribs, play yards, baby walkers, baby bath seats, and children’s portable bed rails.

Media Contact Please use the phone numbers below for all media requests. Phone: (301) 504-7908 Spanish: (301) 504-7800

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/10/5410942/cpsc-approves-proposed-rule-aimed.html#storylink=cpy

Williams-Sonoma Agrees to $987,500 Civil Penalty

Significant Internal Compliance Improvements for Failure to Report Defective Pottery Barn Wooden Hammock Stands


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Williams-Sonoma, Inc., of San Francisco, Calif., has agreed to pay a $987,500 civil penalty.

WilliamsSonoma-LogoAs the CPSC did recently in the Kolcraft agreement, in addition to paying a monetary penalty, Williams-Sonoma has agreed to implement and maintain a compliance program designed to ensure compliance with the safety statutes and regulations enforced by the CPSC.

Williams-Sonoma has also agreed to maintain and enforce a system of internal controls and procedures designed to ensure that:

  • information required to be disclosed by the firm to the CPSC is recorded, processed, and reported, in accordance with applicable law(s);
  • all reporting made to the CPSC is timely, truthful, complete, and accurate;
  • prompt disclosure is made to Williams-Sonoma’s management of any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in the design or operation of such internal controls that are reasonably likely to adversely affect, in any material respect, the company’s ability to report to the CPSC.

Williams-Sonoma further agreed to provide written documentation of such improvements, processes, and controls, upon request to the CPSC; to cooperate fully and truthfully with CPSC staff; and to make available all information, materials, and personnel deemed necessary to staff to evaluate the company’s compliance with the terms of the agreement.

The settlement resolves CPSC’s charges that the firm knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, a defect involving Pottery Barn wooden hammock stands which were found to contain a defect that could pose a fall and laceration hazard to consumers.

Williams-Sonoma did not file its full report with CPSC until September 11, 2008. On October 1, 2008, Williams-Sonoma and CPSC announced the recall of 30,000 wooden hammock stands. By that time, Williams-Sonoma was aware of 45 incidents involving the hammocks, including 12 reports of injuries requiring medical attention for lacerations, neck and back pain, bruising, and one incident involving fractured ribs.

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.

Banned toxin list to add flame retardant

As recently seen in the United States, more pressure to ban the use of flame or fire retardant chemicals in consumer products continues now on an international stage.  These chemicals will likely be added to the list of toxic substances banned under an international treaty to protect human health from pollutants.Flame_Retardant

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (Convention) is a global treaty that aims to protect human health and the environment from the effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The Convention has a range of control measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate the release of POPs, including emissions of unintentionally produced POPs such as dioxins.

Officials from countries that have signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants were to hold a three-day meeting from Tuesday in Geneva, and are expected to discuss the substance – hexabromocycolododecane, or HBCD.

Animal test data show the substance that is used in building materials and textile products and is widely distributed in Asia, Europe and North America, adversely affects biological reproduction, behavior and immune systems.

Maker of children’s nap mats agrees to remove flame retardant chemicals

The chemical commonly known as “TDCPP” or “Tris” [Tris(1,2-dichloro-2-proply) phosphate)] is commonly used as a flame retardant in home furnishings (couches, chairs, pillows, and ottomans) as well as automotive products (seat padding, overhead liners, foams, and infant car seats). In October 2011, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) listed TDCPP as a chemical on Proposition 65 list of chemicals.Fire Retardant

At that time both Retailers and manufacturers were having to balance the competing requirements of Proposition 65 and California’s Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation, which requires furniture and children’s products to withstand igniting when exposed to an open flame for up to twelve seconds.

However, on April 15, 2013, the Center for Environmental Health reported reaching an agreement with Peerless Plastics, a company that makes children’s nap mats, requiring it to remove the flame retardant chemicals in its products by August 1, 2013.

The agreement was reached under California’s Proposition 65 (Prop. 65), which lists chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive harm and requires companies to warn consumers if their products contain such chemicals.

The center apparently initiated legal action against Peerless and more than 50 other companies earlier this year under Prop. 65 after finding that most of the company’s nap mats tested contained flame retardants. According to the center and other advocacy organizations, children are exposed to these chemicals when they leach into the air and settle in dust that children touch and ingest. See Center for Environmental Health Press Release, April 15, 2013.