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CPSIA Tracking Label Deadline to be Enforced

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced last month it reached a split decision on a stay of enforcement of the tracking label requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the result of which is that the approaching deadline for meeting those requirement remains unchanged.

Acting CPSC chair Nancy Nord issued a statement that she voted in favor of staying the enforcement of CPSIA's section 103 after a request from manufacturers who said they were confused about the meaning of the section's various provisions. Nord went so far as to direct CPSC staff to draft a statement implementing the decision. However, CPSC commissioner Thomas H. Moore derailed the effort by voting to deny the request for a stay of enforcement.

According to Nord, "The simple-sounding solution .... belies the difficulty in requiring tracking labels 'to the extent practicable,' as definied in the law." She added: "It is not clear that the application of the tracking label provisions across the board to all companies will improve recall effectiveness to such an extent as to justify the potential significant disruption and adverse impact on manufacturers, especailly smaller companies."

Moore, however, ruled that, though "a one-size-fits-all approach may not be possible given the broad range of products covered by this provision ... there are certainly potential benefits of eventually moving to a standardized tracking system." Further, Moore noted that "I appreciate that manufacturers want complete certainty as to what they can or cannot do under this section [of CPSIA], but I cannot vote to grant the request for a stay of enforement of the entire section ... granting such a request would amount to a postponement of a statutory effective date and that is something the Commission does not have the authority to do."

In response to the ruling, Rick Woldenberg, chairman of the manufacturers group Alliance for Children's Product Safety, issued the following statement:

"We are deeply disappointed in Commissioner Moore's vote to deny the petition. His vote will result in more chaos for manufacturers and retailers from this law—particularly for small businesses—who are already reeling from a difficult recession. The leaders of Congress should take note that Acting Chair Nord, in voting to approve the petition, showed the flexibility and leadership that had been urged in letters by Senator Mark Pryor (chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs), and other members of Congress. It is time for these same members of Congress to write and urge Commissioner Moore to do the same."

The CPSC has yet to issue rules for implementing the CPSIA's labeling requirements that will take effect on August 14, "leaving little time for manufacturers to prepare," according to Woldenberg.

Woldenberg added, "Even when the new rules are released, tracking labels will create practical problems for small businesses. Processing labels is expensive and adds significantly to the complexity of small production runs. In addition, some products have more than one source or are assembled from components made at different times. Small businesses are throwing up their hands over this new burden."

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