The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for regulating the safety of thousands of consumer products, ranging from children’s toys to off-road recreational vehicles. However, it faces a number of challenges regulating this wide range of products.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CPSC implemented remote examination procedures, which resulted in significantly fewer examinations of consumer products at ports of entry than during similar periods in pre-pandemic years. CPSC did not have a finalized continuity of operations plan prior to the pandemic, and as a result, made decisions regarding continuity of operations at the ports and its remote procedures as conditions evolved. By finalizing such a plan, CPSC would be better prepared for disruptions from future emergencies.
CPSC’s ability to respond to new and emerging product risks in a timely manner is limited by factors like its rulemaking process and its reliance on voluntary industry safety standards. For example, CPSC cannot legally compel a manufacturer to comply with a voluntary standard or take action against it for not complying.
Certain legal restrictions may hamper CPSC's ability to stay informed about new product hazards to public health and safety, particularly those related to the growing volume of imported products. In particular, CPSC cannot have information-sharing agreements with foreign counterparts because it cannot allow foreign counterparts to disclose confidential business information that it receives from the agency.
CPSC oversees consumer product safety along with other federal agencies, and it is not always clear who is responsible for overseeing which products. Sometimes, jurisdiction for a product can change depending on where or how it is used. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates hand-held infant carriers when used as car seats, but CPSC regulates the carriers when used outside of motor vehicles.
Regulation of Infant Car Seats/Hand-held Infant Carriers by Two Different Federal Agencies