Thursday, February 24, 2011

CPSIA - ICPHSO Keynote Speech by Inez Tenenbaum

This speech will no doubt be posted on the CPSC website shortly. I will add the link later, please forgive any errors in these notes.

Reviewed 2010 efforts and achievements.
  1. New crib standards ("vastly improved").
  2. Baby bath seats and walker rules
  3. Cadmium in jewelry and children's products (held off what might have been a repeat of the lead recall fiasco). Turned back some shipments at the port. Are now screening for cadmium when they find low lead levels in children's products. Looking at cadmium in substrate in toys and in children's products generally. Technical staff has made their position on these issues "abundantly clear".
  4. Toy safety improved. Recalls reduced from 172 in 2008 to 50 in 2009 to 44 in 2010. Lead recalls in 2010 were THREE. [RW: Obviously, lead is a huge issue.] This has helped to "restore" consumer confidence in toys.
  5. Drywall initiative with HUD. Warnings about sleep positioners and baby slings.

As for 2011,

  1. Looking forward to a "civil discussion" of the issues in 2011. The Commissioners go out to lunch together and aren't like the Sopranos. The Commission is not fractious. 85% of our votes are unanimous. We do disagree from time to time, but "hope to do so without personal or disparaging attacks".
  2. 2010 was the year of the Consumer and 2011 will be "the year to get connected with the CPSC". [RW: Last year she promised us that 2011 would be the year of enforcement. I guess that lays ahead . . . .]
  3. Will implement the Five Year Strategic Plan
  4. Wants to use Neal Cohen's office
  5. Launch the new database, assuming the government is "still open".
  6. Continuing new Section 104 rules, Pool Safely initiative, educating consumers about safe sleep.

"Knocking on the door" on being the global leader in consumer product safety. Looking for an "even more rigorous" identification process for product hazards. Will turn hazard identification into injury reduction. Want "safety built into the products intended for our store shelves."

Touts her agency's agreement with the Chinese government on toy safety. Sampling and testing in China will help assure safety.

Touts Neal Cohen's efforts, and the efforts of the CPSC Beijing office. Re Small Business Ombudsman, it is dedicated "touch point" for small business for education. Many manufacturers might not know where to turn for information or to fully implement the new rules. Not trying to take away business from outside counsel. [She really said this.] Wants to facilitate the transfer of knowledge across industries.

[No mention of SBO advocating for small business or playing an active role in RESOLVING rules disputes or problems. Hmmm. A shoulder to cry on?]

Looking at a shifting supply base, bringing other countries into play. We're looking to prevent a repeat of the China problems.

Re toxic metals, lead and cadmium requirements are intended to create safeguards for the future. Need to expand our vision beyond lead and cadmium. She's got a nice long list of new things to be scared of. We want to be "leaders" in preventing harm from these metals. Need to avoid exposure from the substrate of toys or other products.

[RW: I think a few more tests will do us ALL a lot of good! I am CRAZY to stick around in this industry.]

Back to new crib standards. Cribs must be replaced by end of 2012 to come into compliance with the new rules. [RW: Stimulus plan!] Cribs compliant with the new rules will be available by June, we hope. Lots new rules in "safe sleep" and other juvenile products.

Database ready to roll in two weeks. Don't forget to ask CF "more questions" today at 4 PM. ["More" questions?] She respectfully disagrees with objections to the database. Her pledge is that they will educate consumers that the report should be accurate and safety-based. Let's not let perfect be the enemy of the good. Data warehouse will promote greater efficiency. Consumers will be more "empowered". If consumers withdraw products while the CPSC is working behind the scenes to issue a recall, that's a good thing in her view.

[RW: Is it a "good thing" if they withdraw from using products that are safe or are not subject to recall? Hmmm. That question was unaddressed.]

Recounts her advice on how to amend the CPSIA (functional purpose exception, should get the lead out if it's "practical" to be removed, 100 ppm should be prospective only, and small businesses and small batch manufacturers deserve some relief). Will work with Congress on other changes.

She says, change it but don't end it. Hmmm. Certainly remains open to making old suggested changes to the law.

Finally, pleased to share that starting on March 1, will launch the Chairman's Commendation Circle Program. There will be more details about the nomination process. Wants to highlight innovators and those who are working to prevent injuries every day. [Hmmm.]

Have the right team in place, willing to take action against those who don't follow the law. Forging a new regulatory approach with predictability and consumer confidence. If all of us can be partners in this effort, can build on the progress made in recent years.

RW: This is BY FAR the least threatening speech by Ms. Tenenbaum since she ascended to her chairmanship. Let's hope this signals a significant shift in tone and direction.


halojones-fan said...

"If consumers withdraw products while the CPSC is working behind the scenes to issue a recall, that's a good thing in her view."

Ah-heh. So consumer panic due to false information is a good thing?

Well, actually, I can see how she'd think that. The review and recall-issue process requires a lot of effort by the CPSC. Much better to just scare the crap out of consumers and have them do a de facto recall.

They'll make a desert and call it "peace".

Wacky Hermit said...

The more I hear Inez Tenenbaum speak, the less I like her. She shovels more bull-manure than a farm hand at the Augean Stables. And about the Commission merely disagreeing on a few issues? Give me a break. To get someone like Nancy Nord to start blogging the disagreements takes more than just "oh well, I guess we disagree, it's all in good fun, let's go check out that new dim sum place." I admit I've only been paying attention the last few years, but I've seen a distinctly partisan shift in the Commission during that time. Moore (whose toadiness was so blatant it was creepy) may be gone, but Tenenbaum's taken over for him in weathervaning straight towards the butts of Congressional Democrats. That she's not as creepy a toady as Moore makes little difference.