ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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President Bush Signs Landmark Consumer Product Safety Bill

New York, Aug 18, 2008

HR 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, was signed into law by President George W. Bush late last week.

Lauded by many as representing the most significant improvements to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) since its establishment in the 1970s, the Act will increase annual funding for CPSC from $118 million in fiscal 2010 to $136 million in fiscal 2014.

“The new product safety legislation . . . is a victory for parents and consumers,” said Nancy Nord, Acting Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Among many initiatives to bolster consumer product safety, the Act establishes required safety standards for toys and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and enforces the mandatory testing and certification of children’s products by accredited third-party conformity assessment bodies.

ANSI/SVIA 1-2007, Four-Wheel All-Terrain Vehicles, the American National Standard for ATVs, is now required by law. Developed by the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, an organizational member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the ANS addresses design, configuration, and performance aspects of ATVs, providing the minimum requirements for four wheel all-terrain vehicles.

According to the Coalition for Safe and Responsible ATV Use, non-traditional ATV companies are entering the U.S. market in growing numbers. Many of these companies do not comply with the ANSI/SVIA standard and have refused to implement comprehensive safety Action Plans with the CPSC. Sales of non-compliant ATVs are estimated to account for approximately one-third of the new sales market in the U.S.

Section 232 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act requires all companies that import or sell ATVs in the U.S. to comply with the same safety standards, training programs, and other safety initiatives that established ATV manufacturers currently follow.

Another piece of the legislation, found in Section 106, turns existing guidelines for toy safety into a mandatory standard. ASTM F963-07e1, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety is an American National Standard relating to possible hazards that may not be readily apparent and may be encountered during normal, intended use or reasonably foreseeable abuse. The standard was developed by ASTM International, an ANSI organizational member and audited designator.

Beginning 180 days after enactment of HR 4040, ASTM F963-07 will be considered a consumer product safety standard issued by the CSPC. Within one year of enactment, CPSC will work with industry and other experts to examine the effectiveness of ASTM F963-07 specifically related to magnets, toxic substances, toys with spherical ends, hemispheric-shaped objects, cords, straps and elastics on toys, and battery-operated toys.

Under Section 102 of the legislation, manufacturers of certain products intended for use by children under the age of 12 must seek third-party certification that the product complies with the applicable rules and standards as determined by CPSC. The Commission may accredit third party conformity assessment bodies – or designate an independent organization to do so – and shall periodically review and revise the accreditation requirements, maintaining a list of accredited entities on its website.

The Toy Industry Association (TIA), an ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer, will seek CPSC recognition of its Toy Safety Certification Program, which is intended to provide an appropriate certification system under the Act.

Initiated in 2007, the Toy Safety Certification Program gives guidelines for procedures and provides audit mechanisms for design hazard analysis, auditing manufacturing process controls, and product safety testing. It was developed by a working group comprised of toy manufacturers and retailers, safety experts, consumer advocates, and government authorities. ANSI was commissioned by TIA to chair the initiative. [see related article]

“Congress and the President are building upon an existing foundation of standards and compliance verification programs and an ever-strengthening partnership between the private and public sectors,” said S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and CEO. “We were pleased to see two American National Standards called out in HR 4040, but this is only one small piece of our broader efforts to enhance consumer confidence in the products and services they find on their local shelves.”

To read the full text of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, click here.

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