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CPSC Takes Action on Engineered Wood Products, Baby Changing Products and Activity Centres

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently taken the following actions of potential interest to Hong Kong and mainland Chinese exporters.

Engineered Wood Products
The CPSC has issued a final rule determining that certain untreated and unfinished engineered wood products do not contain lead, ASTM F963 elements or specified phthalates that exceed the statutory limits for children’s products, children’s toys and child care articles. Under this rule, effective 23 July these EWPs (particleboard, hardwood plywood and medium-density fibreboard made from virgin wood or pre-consumer waste) will not require third-party testing for compliance with those limits.

Under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 no accessible part of a children’s product may contain more than 100 parts per million lead content, and paint or other surface coatings on children’s products and furniture intended for consumer use may not contain lead in concentrations greater than 90 ppm. The CPSIA also prohibits children’s toys and child care articles that contain specified phthalates in concentrations above 0.1 percent. Safety standard ASTM F963, which is considered a consumer product safety standard issued by the CPSC, requires surface coating materials and accessible substrates of children’s toys that can be sucked, mouthed or ingested to comply with the solubility limits of the following eight elements: antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and selenium.

Children’s toys and child care articles typically require third-party testing for compliance with these requirements before the manufacturer can issue a children’s product certificate and enter the items into commerce. However, reports from an outside contractor show that the three EWPs at issue do not contain lead, ASTM F963 substances or the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than the statutory limits.

Baby Changing Products
The CPSC has established a mandatory safety standard for baby changing products that incorporates by reference and with no modifications the current voluntary requirements for these products, as laid out in ASTM F2388-18, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Baby Changing Products for Domestic Use. In addition, the CPSC has amended the regulations regarding third-party conformity assessment bodies to include the safety standard for baby changing products in the list of notices of requirements. The new standard will become effective on 26 June 2019.

ASTM F2388-18 defines a “changing product” as a changing table, a changing table accessory, an add-on changing unit or a contoured changing pad. A changing table is defined as “an elevated, freestanding structure generally designed to support and retain a child with a body weight of up to 30 lb (13.6 kg) in a horizontal position for the purpose of allowing a caregiver to change the child’s diaper.” Changing tables may convert from or to other items of furniture (e.g., dresser, desk, hutch, bookshelf or play yard), may have pull-out or drop-down changing surfaces, and may provide storage for diapers and diaper products. A changing table accessory is defined as “an accessory that attaches to a crib or play yard designed to convert the product into a changing table typically having a rigid frame with soft fabric or mesh sides or bottom surface, or both.” An add-on changing unit is “a rigid addition to or separate product used in conjunction with an item of furniture that provides barriers to prevent the infant from rolling off the product when a diaper is being changed.” A contoured changing pad, meanwhile, is “a changing pad designed for use on an elevated surface which incorporates barriers to prevent a child from rolling off the changing surface.” Changing tables used in public facilities, such as public restrooms, are covered by ASTM F2285, Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Diaper Changing Tables for Commercial Use, and are therefore not subject to ASTM F2388-18 or the CPSC’s final rule. 

Most changing tables and add-on changing units are constructed of wood, contoured changing pads often consist of synthetic-covered foam with contoured edges, and changing table accessories that attach to a play yard or crib are generally constructed of plastic or wood with a foam pad. Changing tables come in various designs, some of which include drawers, cabinets or retractable stairs to assist children getting onto them.

Section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires the CPSC to promulgate consumer product safety standards for a range of durable infant or toddler products. These standards must be substantially the same as applicable voluntary standards or more stringent than the voluntary standard if the Commission determines that more stringent requirements would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product. As of late June, the CPSC had issued standards for high chairs, baby changing products, bassinets and cradles, bath seats, infant bath tubs, bed rails (portable), bedside sleepers, full-size cribs, non-full-size cribs, infant swings, infant walkers, play yards, strollers and carriages, toddler beds, hand-held infant carriers, frame child carriers, portable hook-on chairs, soft infant and toddler carriers, infant sling carriers, infant bouncer seats, and children’s folding chairs and stools. As of that date standards had not yet been adopted for booster seats,  stationary activity centres, and gates and other enclosures for confining a child, although the Commission had issued proposed standards for two of these three products (i.e., booster seats and stationary activity centres).

Activity Centres
The CPSC is seeking input from interested parties by 4 September on a proposal to establish mandatory safety standards for stationary activity centres. CPSC staff has concluded that the current voluntary standard, ASTM F2012–18, sufficiently addresses many of the general hazards associated with the use of these products, such as sharp points, small parts, lead in paint, scissoring, shearing, pinching, openings, exposed coil springs, locking and latching, unintentional folding, labelling, protective components, flammability and toy accessories that are sold with the carrier, given the low frequency and low severity of incidents and injuries reported. Accordingly, the Commission is proposing to require compliance with the voluntary standard in its current form.

ASTM F2012–18 defines a stationary activity centre as ‘‘a freestanding product intended to remain stationary that enables a sitting or standing occupant whose torso is completely surrounded by the product to walk, rock, play, spin or bounce, or all of these, within a limited range of motion.’’ The intended users of these products are children who have not yet reached the developmental milestone of walking but are able to hold up their heads unassisted. Stationary activity centres vary in style and design complexity but typically consist of a seating area that is suspended from a frame by springs, or supported from the bottom by a fixed base. The standard includes a definition of a spring-supported stationary activity centre, which is described as “a stationary activity centre in which the sitting or standing platform is supported from below or suspended from above by springs (or equivalent resilient members).’’ For spring-supported stationary activity centres, children should not be able to have their feet flat on the ground when using the product. Doorway jumpers are not included in the definition of stationary activity centres.

Recall Effectiveness
Interested parties may submit input to the CPSC by 5 September in connection with on-going efforts to improve the effectiveness of consumer product recalls. Specifically, the CPSC is seeking information on current methods and systems that recalling firms use to assist in providing direct notice to consumers as well as the use of targeted notices to reach consumers who may have purchased a recalled product.

Issues that the Commission is interested in receiving input include, among others, (i) available methods for directly notifying consumers of recalls (e.g., mail, email, text), (ii) response rates for direct recall notices as well as potential factors affecting response rates, (iii) use of direct notice capabilities by e-commerce retailers/third party platforms, (iv) costs associated with direct notice, (v) challenges and barriers (such as legal and technological barriers and privacy, security and cost challenges) preventing companies from pursuing or improving direct notice, (vi) technologies currently available or under development that would assist a recalling company to acquire direct contact information or capabilities to contact purchasers and/or issue direct notice for recalls, (vii) methods used to collect direct contact information at the point of sale, (viii) previous work with a third-party entity to identify or contact consumers who previously purchased a product subject to a recall, (ix) access of certain customer information through purchase data to provide direct notice, and (x) ways to make direct notice more effective (e.g., notice type, number of touches) and for the CPSC to help facilitate direct notice to consumers.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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