Bush Signs CPSC Reform Bill into Law

H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Reform Act, is now law, having been signed Aug. 14 by President Bush. The sweeping law reauthorizes CPSC through fiscal year 2014, boosting its size by at least 500 employees and at least 50 new inspectors at U.S. ports of entry and overseas production facilities. The law also raises maximum civil penalties to more than $10 million for aggravated circumstances violations of the Consumer Product Safety Act, Federal Hazardous Substances Act, or the Flammable Fabrics Act.

The law will require each manufacturer of any product or substance over which CPSC has jurisdiction (except motor vehicle equipment) to notify CPSC of certain substantial product hazards -- and CPSC must publish a list of product defects that constitute such a hazard. Manufacturers and their subcontractors, importers, retailers, and distributors must identify one another if CPSC requests. CPSC will be authorized to ban importation of toys made by companies that have "shown a persistent pattern [of] substantial product hazards or that present a risk of injury to the public of such a magnitude that the CPSC has determined that a permanent ban on all toys manufactured by such company is equitably justified." CPSC is directed to conduct a study on the use of formaldehyde in the manufacture of textiles and apparel and to identify any risk to consumers.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., sponsored the original reform bill. Rush chairs the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection; he said the bill, which passed the U.S. Senate in amended form on July 31, would establish a tough new ban on toxic toys and revitalize CPSC. "As such, we have taken a big step towards reestablishing consumer safety and consumer confidence," Rush said.

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