15 May Staying Compliant With CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent agency of the federal government that was created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act. It’s responsible for protecting consumers from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products. The Commission’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products is central to its mission.
The CPSC’s role in trade compliance is significant. It works closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to identify and examine imported products that may not comply with U.S. safety standards. This collaboration is crucial to prevent non-compliant products from entering the U.S. market.
The CPSC’s role in trade compliance includes:
- Product Regulation: The CPSC has jurisdiction over about 15,000 types of consumer products, from toys to toasters. They establish safety standards for these products, and it’s illegal to import products that do not meet these standards.
- Enforcement: The CPSC enforces compliance with these standards. They can take various enforcement actions, including issuing recalls for products already on the market and stopping non-compliant products at the border before they enter the U.S. market.
- Inspection: The CPSC inspects products at ports of entry into the U.S. If inspectors suspect a product may be non-compliant, they can detain it for further inspection and testing.
- Recalls: If a product is found to be unsafe after it has entered the market, the CPSC has the power to issue recalls. They can also negotiate voluntary recalls with companies.
- Penalties: Companies that fail to comply with CPSC regulations can face significant penalties. This includes civil penalties, criminal penalties, and even imprisonment in some cases.
- Education: The CPSC also works to educate businesses about U.S. safety standards and their responsibilities under the law. They provide guidance and support to help businesses comply.
- International Cooperation: The CPSC cooperates with product safety agencies in other countries to promote worldwide consumer product safety.
For businesses involved in manufacturing, importing, or selling consumer products, understanding the CPSC’s role and regulations is essential for trade compliance. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in significant penalties and damage to a company’s reputation.
Importers have specific responsibilities to ensure that the products they bring into the United States comply with CPSC regulations. Here are the main steps an importer should take:
- Understand CPSC Regulations: The first step is understanding which CPSC regulations apply to your products. The CPSC regulates about 15,000 types of consumer products, and each may have specific safety standards that it must meet.
- Product Testing and Certification: Most products under the jurisdiction of CPSC must be tested by a CPSC-accepted laboratory to certify compliance with applicable safety regulations. Once tested, a written certificate of compliance, also known as a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) for children’s products or a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC) for non-children’s products, must accompany the product from the manufacturer to the distributor or retailer.
- Labeling and Tracking Information: Certain products must include specific labeling information. For example, children’s products must have permanent, distinguishing marks (tracking label) that provide information like the manufacturer’s name, the location and date of production, and detailed information on the manufacturing process.
- Report Potential Safety Issues: If you learn of a potential safety defect or hazard related to your product, you are legally obligated to report this to the CPSC. This includes situations where the product has been recalled in another country.
- Cooperate with Recalls: If a product you import is subject to a recall, you must cooperate with the CPSC and take steps to notify consumers, remove the product from store shelves, and provide remedies to consumers, which can include a repair, replacement, or refund.
- Stay Updated: The CPSC regularly updates its regulations and standards. It’s important to stay up-to-date with these changes to ensure continued compliance.
These are general guidelines, and the specific steps may vary depending on the type of product and the applicable regulations. The CPSC has a regulatory robot that can help with simple questions. However, compliance can be complex, so it’s best to have an expert on your side. Future Forwarding is proud to have a team of experts ready to keep your cargo moving and compliant. We’re also on the forefront of new technologies and innovative thinking to improve efficiency.
In that vein, CPSC is launching an e-filing pilot program. If you’d like to participate, contact Corporate Compliance Manager Shannon Whitt at 404-608-0060 ext 127.
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