The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently approved, by a split vote, laboratory accreditation requirements for testing compliance with several children’s product safety rules. The rules involve all-terrain vehicles, clothing textiles, mattresses and mattress pads, and mattress sets designed or intended primarily for children ages 12 or younger. The commissioners issued separate statements to explain their reasoning, with those supporting the requirements interpreting recent amendments to the Consumer Product Safety Act in a way that includes rules of general applicability, such as flammability regulations, under the rubric “children’s product safety rules.” The two commissioners opposing this interpretation contend that flammability standards cannot be children’s product safety rules because they do not address specific dangers unique to children.  

Supporting the requirements, CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum stated, “Congress created the mandate for third party testing at a time when consumers had experienced a crisis in confidence of the safety of children’s products, and the need for further protections for our nation’s children was abundantly clear. This week’s votes provide the public with reassurance that a third party, other than a manufacturer, will test and verify that children’s all-terrain vehicles, wearing apparel and youth mattress products comply with the rules and regulations applicable to them.”  

Complaining about what she sees as “excessive regulation,” Commissioner Anne Northup stated, “imposing more regulation without a corresponding improvement in product safety, the Commission continues down a path of overregulation that our economy cannot sustain.” She invited public comments by affected parties who could “convince my colleagues to change course before we add further to what are now six notices of accreditation that we never should have issued.” See Northup Statement, August 9, 2010; Tenenbaum Statement, August 12, 2010; BNA Product Safety & Liability Reporter, August 13, 2010; Federal Register, August 18, 2010.