CPSC's Exemptions to Third-party Testing Create Compliance Confusion
The exemptions were created to benefit small, local businesses that create children's products but cannot afford the extra compliance testing. However, the risks for distributors are not limited to buying products from smaller American manufacturers.
"CPSIA defines an importer as a manufacturer," Brenner explained. "So you could have someone importing products without any third-party testing and without knowing anything about the factory where the products are produced or the materials used by the factory."
"Take the example of a small firm who goes on an Asian sourcing site like Alibaba.com, finding a stuffed toy manufacturer, importing 5,000 stuffed bears, and never submitting the products to third party toy testing, phthalate testing, lead-in-substrate testing or lead-in-surface-coating testing. It may be that the importer verified with the overseas factory that the products are compliant, but without third-party testing of the production pieces there is no assurance," he said.
The Small Batch Manufacturer's Registry began accepting applications at the end of December, when the stay of enforcement on testing and certification for children's products ended. In a statement announcing the registry, the CPSC reinforced that those companies granted exemption from third-party testing are not granted exemption from compliance. Manufacturers must still provide a certificate of conformity stating that the products comply with all federal regulations, and "you cannot ensure compliance without using testing as part of the compliance program," Stone said. "It doesn't release you from your legal and moral obligation to deliver safe products."
Listing on the registry, which was created as part of the CPSIA reforms signed by President Obama on August 12, is given on a per-year basis, and qualifying manufacturers must provide evidence that they meet both requirements annually. Visit SaferProducts.gov for more information.