Consumer Product Safety Commission

In April, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) broke new ground by indicting two former officials of a company accused of failing to timely report a potential product safety hazard to the CPSC. Those indictments marked the first time the CPSC has sought to hold executives criminally liable based on an alleged reporting violation. But while the CPSC had never previously filed criminal charges against individual corporate officers, it has previously sought to hold individuals civilly liable for corporate actions.
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UPDATED 7/17/2019: Six of the seven bills listed below – all of the product-specific bills – are now on their way to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Energy & Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce have both reported the bills favorably. The Subcommittee amended five of the bills, as noted below.

The committees did not consider the Fast Track recall bill. However, leadership from both parties committed to further collaboration and to moving the issue forward, recognizing the need to help the CPSC and companies execute recalls faster.

All of the votes in both committees were bipartisan. With a divided Congress, maintaining consensus will likely be essential to the bills’ chances in the Senate. Because of the need for consensus, CPSC-regulated companies and industries have a valuable opportunity for meaningful congressional engagement. Members usually respond to the concerns of the job-creators in their districts, and the drive for bipartisanship on these bills will only make members more receptive.


The U.S. House Consumer Protection & Commerce Subcommittee will hold a legislative markup session on Thursday for several bills related to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This session follows the subcommittee’s April CPSC oversight hearing, which focused on the big picture, asking whether or not the CPSC is fulfilling its mission.
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As the partial federal government shutdown enters its second week, businesses both large and small should be aware of the shutdown’s implications for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and for product safety. Companies should be aware that their obligations under CPSC continue, despite that their partner in product safety is absent until its funding is restored.

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Airing dirty laundry. The CPSC has made public its internal dispute over civil penalties. On July 20, 2016, Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye and Commissioner Robert Adler issued a joint statement addressing the diverging views among the CPSC commissioners over the agency’s recent settlements. The joint statement responded to other commissioners who had criticized CPSC’s higher civil penalty settlements.
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Calls for a government-led investigation of the potential negative health effects of crumb rubber turf are getting louder, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission is listening. Crumb rubber turf infill consists of black pellets of ground-up rubber, and it’s become increasingly popular in the construction of sports fields. Some are concerned, however, that crumb rubber turf may expose athletes to cancer-causing chemicals.

On Wednesday, January 27, CPSC chairman Elliot F. Kaye, in statements to a Florida television station, indicated that CPSC will investigate the potential risks of rubber turf.


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Legal decision-makers are used to seeing other departments employ analytics to understand their customers and be more successful. Many legal departments use software or processes to control costs, but these have little to do with the ultimate outcome of particular cases or investigations. It is past time for those same tools to be put to work in improving and predicting legal outcomes.
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The Consumer Product Safety Commission has proposed a permanent ban on certain phthalates in children’s toys and child care articles. Phthalates, a family of chemical plasticizer, give plastic products more flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity.  They can be found in a number of everyday products, including toys and furniture. Phthalate exposure has been associated with birth defects, asthma, male reproductive issues, and early female puberty.  The proposed ban would add  to the list of phthalates already banned by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (“CPSIA”).

The CPSIA currently prohibits manufacturers from using certain phthalates in children’s products.  Under the exising rules, manufacturers are not allowed to use greater than 0.1 percent individually of the phthalates DEHP, DBP, and BBP in children’s toys and certain child care articles.  “Children’s toys” refers to consumer products intended for children 12 years and younger for recreational use. “Child care articles” are consumer products manufactured for children three years or younger and made to assist in sleeping, feeding, sucking, or teething.
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“Compliance” has become a buzzword for companies across the American economy, most commonly in the general corporate (e.g., Sarbanes-Oxley) or employment (e.g., Department of Labor) contexts.  Unfortunately, too many consumer product companies do not have a written plan for meeting their hazard and incident reporting requirements to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Multiple companies this year have been hit with penalties — some of them in the millions of dollars —for failing to report troublesome incidents and for making safety-related design changes without notifying CPSC.
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This week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a proposal to amend regulation 16 C.F.R. Part 1101, which controls the agency’s implementation of Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2055(b). The proposed revisions, if approved, would limit the safeguards presently protecting manufacturers and label makers (collectively, manufacturers) from CPSC disclosures regarding their products.
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