CFA Hosts Discussion of New CPSC Requirements for Apparel Makers

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Improvement Act of 2008 is rife with significant changes that have apparel makers scrambling to understand what is required and how to prove compliance with the new law.

On Dec. 2, the California Fashion Association and the law office of Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt hosted a meeting for CFA members struggling to understand the CPSC’s Improvement Act. Targeting mainly children’s products, the far-reaching act was enacted in August and makes significant changes to the current regulations and imposes additional compliance requirements for consumer products produced domestically and abroad.

Attorneys Richard Wortman and Heather Litman led the discussion, answering questions from manufacturers concerned about the new CPSC law, which has been criticized for being vague and confusing.

The law, which as of Nov. 12 calls for a general conformity certificate on all goods that are subject to a consumer product safety rule under any act enforced by the CPSA, also applies to adult apparel, which is subject to the general flammability standards under 16 CFR 1610. The CPSC issued a final rule on Nov. 11, clarifying the requirement for compliance certificates.

According to the CPSC, only the importer must issue the conformity certificate. The certificate must be available to the CPSC in hard copy and electronic format no later than the time the product is available for shipment in the United States. For domestically produced products, the manufacturer is responsible for the conformity certificate, which must be made available to the CPSC upon request before the product is introduced into domestic commerce.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has compiled a list of requirements and a sample document for manufacturers and importers to use to generate their own general conformity certificate required under the Improvement Act of 2008. (Access the pdf here)

Children’s apparel makers—which are labeled by the CPSC as companies making apparel intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger—will take the brunt of the law, facing staggered deadlines for new lead-paint requirements, third-party testing, small parts, metal jewelry and all other children’s product safety rules. Other requirements call for tracking labels on children’s products.

Under the new law, civil penalties for failure to report and other violations of the act are significantly increased. Penalties will increase from $8,000 to $100,000 for each violation, and the current maximum penalty of $1.825 million is increased to $15 million. Criminal penalties will include higher fines, and prison sentences can reach five years under the new law.

CFA Executive Director Ilse Metchek welcomed the 25 attendees, who included makers of swimwear, juniors, tween and children’s apparel, and urged them to be proactive in keeping abreast of new and upcoming legislation. “This is the first of a series of private meetings we will be hosting to discuss issues of importance to importers and exporters,” Metchek said.

The next invitation-only meeting will be on Jan. 8 and will cover the topic of the new “10 Plus 2” security regulation proposed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. For more information about the CFA’s meetings, call (213) 688-6288. To contact Litman or Wortman, call (213) 624-1970. —Erin Barajas