CPSIA Requirements

The forum has been buzzing fast and furious in response to the CPSIA Requirements Alex wrote about in New Product Safety Regulations That Affect ALL Manufacturers. I am waiting to hear back from a few off site authorities who may help provide some insight. Below appears the list I’ve prepared for inquiries and you are welcome to post this entry in its entirety elsewhere on the web provided you link to the source. Obviously it cannot be comprehensive but it’s what I’ve come up with based on the 100 +/- comments posted to the two threads in the member’s forum. By all means add to it.

The overarching concerns are:

  1. What are we required to do -and when? (sewn product producers)
  2. What are we required to do -and when? (Retail)
  3. Definitions and time lines
  4. Enforcement and standardization
  5. Costs
  6. Logistics
  7. Infrastructure of testing facilities
  8. Stifling innovation
  9. What can we do (activism/comment)?
  1. What are we required to do -and when? (sewn product producers):
    • Confusion reigns over whether assay of inputs or final products is required.
    • How about acquiring certifications from upstream suppliers? If one cannot be absolved of liability by accepting documentation from an upstream supplier, it’d be a huge expense and duplication of effort on the supply chain.
  2. What are we required to do -and when? (Retail):
    • As the last stop in the process, what is their responsibility for collecting certification on goods they receive?
    • Are they absolved of liability if certifications are not genuine?
    • Is retail being forced to assume the responsibility of policing the whole process?
    • What if they get goods without documentation? Do they ship it back and risk incurring wrath from their suppliers over charge backs needed to cover the costs?
    • What if this happens to all or most of their goods and their shelves go empty while everyone scrambles to come into compliance?
  3. Definitions and timelines -Among the myriad of complaints regarding the lack of comprehensive guidelines are these:
    • How is the date of manufacture determined? Is it considered to be manufactured when it comes off the sewing machine, when it goes into the shipping container, when it hits the dock in the US, or when one takes receipt of the goods?
    • Will items in the pipeline be permitted? If not, the losses could be devastating considering the time line of upstream sourcing of fabric and inputs.
  4. Enforcement and standardization:
    • The certificate is not considered part of the entry documentation and therefore, not needed to be presented at entry. However, it does need to be included in the shipment meaning it must be present. This is beyond confusing.
    • What if enforcement agents don’t like the way the forms are done (lack of standardization) so the lot is impounded into a bonded warehouse? Is one permitted to pull samples out to get them re-tested? Currently, pulling goods out is not permitted.
  5. Costs:
    • Costs disproportionately impact small businesses and can put them out of business at a time when the economy is least able to absorb it. Solicited quotes for services range in price from $450-$982 per colorway of each style meaning a style with three colorways can cost $3,000 (I use the higher figure for reasons #6 and #7 below). For a small line with only ten styles, this can mean $30,000 -more than the total cost of production or inputs.
    • Worse (other than price increases to consumers) overhead is affected as testing must be done pre-market meaning one is spending money for compliance costs on styles that may be dropped. Yet you can’t pre-sell something if you don’t know it’ll pass. This should prove the need of assays of inputs (#1) over finished product testing but this remains unclear.
  6. Logistics:
    • The logistics required are of greater complexity, straining those with less sophisticated sourcing management systems. One must collect input samples from international suppliers which must then be sent to labs for testing prior to purchasing. How much time will the logistics of testing add to the product development cycle (aka “speed to market”) considering the myriad of details to be collected?
  7. Infrastructure of testing facilities:
    • Has anyone done an analysis of test lab capacity?
    • Are there enough to manage the new caseload?
    • How long will product development and scheduling be delayed?
    • Considering the dramatic increase in the demand for testing services, one can only imagine costs will dramatically increase until more labs get into the business.
  8. Stifling innovation:
    • Due to logistics, lack of readily available compliance certifications from international suppliers, it is very likely producers will have yet another encumbrance, limiting the range of styles they develop. Style development will centralize to reflect only those goods which are readily procured and established to be within compliance.
  9. What can we do (activism/comment)?
    • HELP! Tell us who to write or talk to and what to say and we’ll do it.

Related in the forum:
The War Room: CPSIA & Consumer Safety. This is a very active section with nearly 60 different threads and over 1,000 postings. Open to the public.

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  1. Eric H says:

    Coming soon to a JC Penneys near you:

    Take 1)
    Clothing for life-sized dolls. WARNING! NOT TO BE WORN BY HUMANS. Available in a range of styles and sizes (S-M-L-XL). Even clothes for “plus-sized”, “petite” and “Big & Tall” dolls. Also bras for dolls in an enormous range of cup sizes and colors. Underwear may not be returned.

    Take 2)
    Here’s another unitard, Brother. Like all of them, it is available in grey. Thank Uni!

  2. Anne says:

    Reading this list just makes me think all the more that this legislation could not have been meant for the apparel industry, not for fabrics, at least. This is a nightmare.

    Ugh, here it is, answered quite clearly:

    Q: Are fabrics considered a substrate and would they require testing under CPSIA?
    A: According to the CPSC, fabric is considered a substrate material and would need to comply with the specific total lead requirements.

  3. kay says:

    Sounds like an excellent story to feed to a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, Marketplace or similar journalist with an interest in the laws of unintended consequences…. Senator Gordon Smith, (R, OR) now a lame duck might be willing to take it on a bit, as his family is involved in food manufacturing, and he’s been on the senate committee on commerce, and is ranking member on Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade and Global Competitiveness.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I’m still unclear – is this for sources that are US-made, too?

    YES. Absolutely. As I said in the first entry, the law recognizes it is cannot target only importers. Most of the inputs (fabrics buttons etc) used in apparel are imported. Since the legislation only targets finished products, fabrics etc are not tested or certified as safe before entering the country so there is no way to be certain products are compliant just because they were sewn here.

    How will this affect the home seamstress business?? or the business that makes clothing items for the local schools?

    I don’t know how or if it will affect custom clothiers but any manufacturer, whether they are home based one person operation or not, is affected. There was NO allowance made for company size in the regulations. So, if you make clothing items for local schools, whether out of your home, at a small shop, or the largest firm in the U.S., you are definitely affected.

  5. Flowersbyfarha says:

    Where do we go to see these regulations for ourselves.

    This discussion seems focussed on apparel… does that include fashion accessories (beaded, metal, etc) or products made from ribbons and millinery supplies?

    Once concern, of course, is what about supplies that were purchases prior to these regulations and came with none of these certificates? Or, from sources who no way are issuing certificates of any kind (eg, ebay and etsy sellers who are destashing.)

  6. Ellen says:

    I’m confused as well! After reading the FAQs regarding Durable Nursery Products, Section 104, of CPSIA, it seems to me that cloth/textile items made entirely from cloth will not need a certificate of compliance. Do you understand it the same way?

  7. Carol in Denver says:

    Perhaps this coverage is noted in the Forum also, but for everybody:
    Today 11/18/08 edition of the Wall Street Journal, page B2:
    “Vendors Urge Relaxed Lead-Safety Rule ”
    The author is:
    No mention that the act applies to ALL apparel, not just kid stuff! Perhaps she would be interested in a followup article that much wider problems that are going to ensue, unless Congress changes the law.

    I can’t post the whole thing, but here are some fair-use quotes:
    “Rick Woldenberg, chairman of family-owned Learning Resources Inc., an Illinois-based maker of educational toys, said he funds his day-to-day operations with the help of a revolving-credit loan backed by his inventory. On Feb. 10, much of his inventory could be deemed worthless, potentially putting his loan agreement at risk. He said he has dubbed Feb. 10 National Bankruptcy Day.”

    “There’s the potential loss of billions of dollars in inventory that is deemed safe for purchase on Feb. 9 but deemed unsafe Feb. 10″ unless proved otherwise, said Jim Neill, an association spokesman [of the National Association of Manufacturers]”

    “Late last week, CPSC General Counsel Cheryl Falvey refuted industry arguments that the new standard wasn’t supposed to apply retroactively to existing inventory.
    She said Congress was clear in stating that a product in violation of the new lead limits would be treated as a “banned hazardous substance” and therefore unlawful to sell as of Feb. 10.”

  8. Ali says:

    Does anyone know where we can get more legal council on this? I am soooo confused. I own a organic baby clothing company…….. of course our clothes should comply…….hence organic

  9. Brenda says:

    I need to know if there are any Thrift store owners out there that have any ideas on what they are going to do about this issue. I sell clothes for people on consignments in my small store. Is everyone just going to have sales and get rid of all the childrens clothes in these stores before that time? I have a friend that is getting a lawyer to look into this avenue. I will repost if there is any news as what Thrift stores can do about this.

  10. Stacie Dale says:

    According to the CPSIA, if you sell any product that is intended for use by a child under the age of 12, you must have it tested at a 3rd party testing facility for lead and pthalates ( found in plastics & vinyl). There is a list of approved testing facilities on the CPSIA website. Even if your products are organic or made from 100% natural materials, you MUST HAVE THEM TESTED to show compliance with the CPSIA. You are also required to provide any retailer you sell to, a certificate of complaince, with every shipment of product. I suspect many retailers will start asking for certificates of compliance very soon….especially the large ones like Target or Wal-Mart. Also required is a labeling system fo all items yo sell thatgives the date of manufacture, lot number and contact information for the factory that produced the item.

  11. I would like to know if there has been clarification about the amendment clause in section 102 (sorry, I’m lost the link and actual/specific subsection/paragraph detail) wherein it read ANY product not just ‘any CHILDREN’S product’ was subject to the testing/certification. I tried to track down the references to read through and make sure it wasn’t a “Chicken Little” warning, but got lost in the mumbo-jumbo.

    Is this act truly limited to children’s products or because of careless wording in the act, does it encompass ALL products regardless of intended target market age?


  12. helen gist-tselikidis says:

    like everyone i am confused. i am a tie-dyer have been for 22 years. i sell kids and adult clothhing. i really do not want to sell anything that maybe dangerous to children. is there a way i can test my clothing? is the dye i use which is a commercial dye possibly be harmful?
    i have had no negative feedback in all these years. the dye i use can even be ingested all though not recommended with little consequence i can understand testing buttons ,zippers,
    snaps, but why my dye. have there been any lead incident links to procion mx dyes?
    mybe this is gods plan to have our children naked or all wearing oof white. childrens clothing has always been expensive but now it will shoot through the roof. perfect timing. i would like to test the childrens clothing in my store . any suggestions how i can do this myself till august. then i will become an adult clothing store. any suggestions on becoming a tester sounds like a depression proof job.

  13. nathan says:

    Does anybody knows if thses regulations apply to beeding products like sheets and comfortors (general bedding , not ones that are special for kids)

    And is there any source we can consult with?

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