The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 made a variety of changes to the safety regulations for consumer and children’s products (products intended for use primarily by children under 12). Prompted by numerous recalls of imported products containing lead paint, the Act overhauls consumer and children's product safety laws in multiple respects that impact manufacturers, importers, labelers, distributors, and retailers of consumer products and children's products.

By November 12, 2008, manufacturers must provide retailers and distributors with a "suppliers declaration of conformity" or general certification for all consumer products subject to any existing consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation. The certification must verify that each consumer product is in compliance with all applicable consumer safety standards and must do so based upon a "reasonable testing program." Testing must verify compliance under the Consumer Products Safety Act, Federal Hazardous Substances Act, Flammable Fabrics Act, Poison Prevention Packaging Act, and other applicable consumer product safety rules, bans, standards and regulations.

One of the Act’s most significant changes is the requirement that all children’s products and components be tested by accredited third party laboratories to confirm compliance with children's product safety standards. On September 22, 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released its first accreditation requirements aimed at lead paint testing. Those requirements impact all children's products manufactured after December 22, 2008. The commission also issued accreditation requirements for full size cribs, non-full size cribs, and pacifiers on October 22, 2008, which impact products manufactured after January 20, 2008. During the coming months, the commission will issue additional regulations for accreditation on testing small parts, children's jewelry, baby bouncers, walkers, jumpers and other products subject to children's safety rules.

Though an important change, third party testing and certification requirements are not the only developments in children's product safety in 2008. The Act also includes new and significant limits on lead and phthalates.

Primary responsibility for third party testing is on manufacturers (including private labelers), but distributors and retailers also should pay careful attention to the Act, especially as it relates to children's products. Retailers and distributors are now legally obligated to produce conformity certificates when requested by the Commission, and additional provisions of the Act regulate tracking and reporting requirements.

Below are some key items you should consider to ensure your company complies with the Act's requirements:

  • Whether the Act impacts the consumer and children's products your business manufactures, imports, marks, distributes, or sells;
  • Whether your business is required to certify compliance through third-party testing;
  • Whether your business is required to obtain from suppliers and vendors general or third-party certifications;
  • Requirements for accreditation of third-party testing facilities.

Additional regulations will be issued by the CPSC in the months ahead.