Small-business owners last week called on Congress to ease child-safety policies they say are too burdensome. Business owners say the regulatory costs imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 are forcing some companies to shut their doors — even if their products pose no danger. But some lawmakers and consumer protection groups say the stringent rules are needed to keep kids safe.
The new law requires testing and documentation of all products marketed to children under age 12 and limits the level of lead in those products. A vast array of merchandise falls under the law’s scope, including clothing, furniture, sports gear and toys.
The CPSIA was created as a response to 172 recalls and 24 child deaths in 2008, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 2009, deaths were cut in half, to 12, and recalls dropped to 50. Read more on how toys are getting safer — more or less.
Lawmakers have proposed amendments to CPSIA, including a requirement for third-party testing at a certified laboratory and even-lower safety levels for toxic substances such as lead. But small-business owners say they can’t afford to comply with the new regulations.
In what appears to be a conflict between costly regulations versus children’s safety, some small businesses claim they have been forced to close down because they can’t afford to comply with the rules. But the argument that loopholes should be made for small business owners doesn’t make sense – just because a toy is made by a small company, perhaps one person, one toy at a time, does not mean it is safe.
Parents can play a vital role in ensuring safety, but Congress still needs to regulate unknown dangers, according to the director of product safety and senior counsel at the Consumer Federation of America. The organization rejects efforts to “open a series of gaping loopholes in the CPSIA that would allow more lead into a host of children’s products. Allowing more lead in children’s products and carving out products from the scope of the CPSIA is not what children are asking for this holiday season.”