The Commissioners of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have unanimously approved a draft ‘Statement of Policy’ to clarify the new tracking label requirements included in Section 103 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (“CPSIA”).  All three commissioners — Chairman Tenenbaum and Commissioners Moore and Nord — issued statements with their votes.  
The Sporting Goods Manufacturer's Association (SGMA) said in a statement that the CPSC ‘Statement of Policy’ gives manufacturers guidance on the Commission's interpretation of Section 103, including information required on tracking labels and the CPSC implementation and enforcement plan. The Statement does not modify or change the tracking label requirement in any way, but does offer limited flexibility on initial enforcement of the new laws.

“The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is a major undertaking and still evolving. The SGMA applauds the CPSC’s recognition of the broad implications of the new law,” said Bill Sells, SGMA’s vice president of government relations.  “The Commission’s flexibility on the application and reasonable enforcement of new product safety requirements will ease the transition for many manufacturers.  As the CPSC continues to refine and clarify different aspects of the new law, manufacturers need to fully understand their obligations.  SGMA is committed to providing the industry with timely information to help them comply with the new requirements.”

There are several key highlights from the ‘Statement of Policy:

•    The Commission recognizes that Section 103 cannot be applied using uniform one-size-fits-all system.  Manufacturers must use their best judgment to develop markings that best suit their business and products.  
•    The CPSC does not plan to penalize manufacturers for inadvertent violations, provided they made a good faith attempt to comply with the requirements of Section 103.  
•    The country, city, state, province or administrative region where product was made is sufficient for the requirement to provide information on the source of production.  
•    Name of manufacturer or private labeler must be ascertainable on the marking.
•    Manufacturers need to consider the totality of information permanently marked on their products and determine if the required information is included.
•    The tracking information does not necessarily need to be in one specific location or label.  
•    The permanent mark must be placed on a product or packaging to the extent it is durable enough to reach the consumer.
•    Not all products and packaging will be suitable for the required markings.  Manufacturers need to provide permanent markings whenever it is practicable or necessary.  Several examples are listed on page 4-5 of the ‘Statement of Policy.’    

The SGMA statement concluded, “The bottom line is the manufacturer is responsible for making a reasonable judgment about the information that can be marked on their product and packaging, taking into consideration the character and type of product and business. It is important to understand that the ‘Statement of Policy’ is intended solely as guidance and does not provide a detailed analysis of compliance with Section 103.  Manufacturers need to make reasonable interpretations of their labeling and reporting requirements based on the guidance and the product.”