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Legislation Affecting New Product Safety Laws Appears Imminent

Date: 7/31/08

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 Ready for Passage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 31, 2008 -- The U.S. Congress is expected to send consumer product safety reform legislation (H.R. 4040) to President George Bush next week. The White House has signaled support for the most sweeping product safety bill in years. Should the President sign the bill, new regulations on lead paint will go into effect within 90 days and new phthalates restrictions will be initiated within 180 days. The legislation will also create an on-line database to search reports of product-related deaths and injuries; increase the cap on civil penalties to $15 million; and allow state attorney generals to interpret and enforce product safety laws using state protocols.

Listed below are aspects of the bill which SGMA feels will impact the sporting goods industry:

Section 108:

The phthalate ban in “toys” would go into effect 180 days after enactment (projected mid-February 2009). Three types of phthalates (DEHP, DBP & BBP) will be permanently banned, while three other types of phthalates (DINP, DIDP & DnOP) will be temporarily banned while further research is conducted. “Phthalate alternatives” will also be banned. This covers a broad range of substitute materials. “Toys” are defined as “a consumer product designed or intended by the manufacturer for a child 12 years of age or younger for use by the child when the child plays.” The bill is unclear on application of “Children’s Toy” to sporting goods, but will likely apply to certain sports products that meet the definition of products designed for children under 12 that could be placed in their mouths.

“We will meet with the CPSC to further clarify the scope of “children’s toy” definition and whether the term “play” includes participation in sports activities,” said Bill Sells, SGMA’s Vice President of Government Relations.

Section 101:

Lead provisions apply to “Children’s Products.” Lead content in children’s products will be reduced to 600 parts per million within 180 days; 300 parts per million within one year; and 100 parts per million within three years of the enactment of the legislation. Non-accessible components of children’s products are not subject to the lead paint restrictions. Lead paint content standards will be reviewed within five years and lowered if possible.

Section 102:

Testing shall commence within 90 days of public announcement of requirements for accreditation of independent testing by a third party. Each manufacturer will be required to submit appropriate certificates and samples of product for testing to an accredited third party. Products must be approved by a qualified third party prior to importation, warehousing, distribution etc.

Section 212:

Within 18 months of enactment of legislation, the CPSC will establish an on-line database available to the public. The database will contain information on “harm” related to the use of consumer products provided by consumers, healthcare professionals, child service providers, public safety entities, and federal, state and local governments. “Harm” is defined as injury, illness, death or the risk of injury, illness or death as determined by the CPSC.

The database will include the following information:

  • Description of the product (including model name)
  • Manufacturer of product
  • Harm resulting from consumer use of product
  • Contact information on person submitting report

The CPSC will notify manufacturers of reports received involving their products.

Section 217:

The bill will increase the minimum penalty from $5,000 to $100,000 and the maximum penalty from $1.25 million to $15 million for violations of product safety regulations. The CPSC shall consider the following factors when determining penalties for violations of product safety regulations:

  • The nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the violation
  • Impact of penalty on small businesses

Section 218:

State Attorney Generals may bring action on behalf of a state’s residents in any U.S. District court in which the defendant is found or transacts business. A state must notify the CPSC 30 days prior to taking civil action. Civil action may not be brought if the same alleged violation is the subject of a pending civil or criminal action by the United States.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, the owner of the Sports Research Partnership, is the global business trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry. SGMA enhances industry vitality and fosters sports, fitness, and active lifestyle participation. SGMA can be found at www.sgma.com

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