The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced recently that it stopped 4.8 million units of products at multiple ports of entry that violated product safety rules or were deemed to be hazardous. The units were seized during the Commission’s last fiscal year (October 2011 to September 2012). This announcement comes as no surprise to those of us following state, federal and international product safety developments. The CPSC, with the full cooperation of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has intensified its efforts since the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) to identify violative products at our borders.

Specifically, the CPSC screened more than 18,000 different imported consumer products. About 1,500 of those products were found to be violative and prevented from moving into the U.S. stream of commerce. While manufacturers and importers of all consumer products must remain vigilant of applicable safety standards, those who deal in “children’s products” (products designed or intended primarily for ages 12 years and under) have attracted the most attention from the CPSC’s Office of Import Surveillance. As the CPSC’s news release notes, children’s products with lead levels exceeding federal limits continue to be at the top of the list when it comes to seizures. Other federal standards that are strictly enforced include toys and other articles with small parts for children younger than 3 and child care articles with excessive amounts of phthalates (chemical plastic softeners).

The safety of consumer products is receiving more scrutiny from federal and state governments and the CPSC is assessing higher penalties throughout the distribution chain for violations of regulatory requirements. Ensuring compliance during the design and manufacturing stage of your product is key to preventing violations and problems at the border.