Monday September 10, 2012
CPSC Draft on Reducing Testing Burdens Focuses on 11 IdeasBy Sean Oberle
CPSC members are slated to hold a decisional meeting October 3 on staffers’ 11 recommendations for easing the burden of third-party testing. Many of the suggestions are worded in terms like “research the feasibility,” so they likely would not offer relief soon. Earlier this year (PSL, 2/13/12, p. 1) CPSC received feedback from stakeholders on ideas for easing the burdens.
The work stemmed from a mandate in the August 2011 CPSIA amendments. CPSC also listed the project in the ongoing White House inspired regulatory streamlining effort (PSL, 4/30/12), and it said it would aim at finding burden reducers during fiscal 2013, which begins October 1.
The first suggestion involves education of companies on testing rules. Staffers wrote, “With a fuller understanding of the regulations’ requirements and flexibilities, opportunities for using the same component part test results across many products could be better realized, or instances of redundant testing could be avoided.”
The second recommendation – to look at the determinations route – includes three parts:
Third is to consider allowing Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) to show phthalates compliance. Concerns, however, are the ability of the method to distinguish between prohibited and allowed phthalates and its ability to identify concentrations above 0.1%.
Fourth is to look at allowing a production-volume option for periodic testing in lieu of scheduled intervals. Staffers’ example was every 10,000 units but at least once every three years. Firms would need to document that the products were low volume and certification requirements still would apply.
Fifth – involving expansion of third-party conformity assessment bodies – are two options:
Sixth is to consider de minimis testing exemptions for lead paint and phthalates. The aim would be to minimize situations such as when painted or plasticized components are so small as to require destruction of many units simply to get a useful sample size for testing.
Seventh are two questions about increasing the lead content determinations at 16 CFR 1500.91:
The eighth suggestion is to clarify that firms that do not do periodic testing do not need to create plans for doing so. The option could aid firms – such as with short production runs – that “find it prudent or efficient to recertify the children’s product, rather than conduct periodic testing.”
Ninth is a recommendation to look at linking low risks of noncompliance with longer periodic testing intervals. This idea would focus on product classes, not particular manufacturers, and among issues that CPSC would need to consider are the rationales for expanding to particular intervals and what to do about outlier companies.
Tenth is to look at ways to reduce administrative costs with information technology. Staffers were intrigued by a commenter that said it could provide its testing plan and document generation tool free to small manufacturers in a public/private partnership with CPSC.
Eleventh is to seek authority from Congress to recognize certification of a manufacturing process as satisfying testing requirements due to the ongoing reassessments involved.
Download a copy of the briefing package from http://www.cpsc.gov/LIBRARY/FOIA/FOIA12/brief/reduce3pt.pdf.