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Monday February 21, 2022

CPSC's Speed-up Trend Is Intentional, ICPHSO Attendees Hear

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CSPC speakers February 16 confirmed as intentional a trend that has arisen in recent months – movement toward faster action. Attendees of ICPHSO's annual symposium heard from General Counsel Austin Schlick that CPSC is seeking to balance the dichotomy between laws that dictate it must move deliberately and a mission that often demands a sense of urgency.


For example, there is more willingness to issue unilateral safety warnings, he said, pointing to recent ones involving Peloton (PSL, 04/26/21) and Leachco (PSL, 02/14/22). CPSC will "use the tools the law gives us," such as the health and safety exemptions for 6(b), he explained.


Also fitting this "Faster CPSC" model are recent moves to shorten effective date periods as was done in December (PSL, 12/20/21) with NPRs on magnet sets and window coverings. This involved flipping a long-time agency practice of predicting lengthy compliance needs for industry. Now, the agency will seek more abbreviated times and expect industry to argue for longer times if those are needed.


Moreover, Schlick rejected a perceived conflict between trying to force a company into a recall at the same time it seeks a rule on the product class. The former involves an urgency to prompt particular action by a specific entity, while the latter involves deliberation over related issues generally. Neither activity prejudices the other, he asserted.


Schlick also cited improved FoIA request times and negotiated free and online access to incorporated standards.


Meanwhile, in a luncheon speech later in the day, Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric echoed the idea that CPSC "will not hesitate to move forward on our own" related to substantial product hazards. Hoehn-Saric also linked timely 15(b) reporting by companies to CPSC's expectations of fast action, noting renewed willingness to seek civil penalties.