Standards for Consumer Products
Author: David DeToffol
Uploaded: Thursday, May 13, 2021, 5:55 PM
Of the approximately 15,000 categories of products overseen by the Consumer Product safety Commission, the government agency with jurisdietion over many consumer products, only about 70 are governed by a mandatory standard. For those 70 product categories federal rules mandate compliance with special safety requirements. Manufacturers must test them usually through independent labs.
Products that fail these tests must be recalled if they are already for sale. If the manufacturer has violated the laws for example by failing to immediately report a noncompliant product to the CPSC it can face penalties, such as fines and even criminal prosecution.
Products with mandatory standards include bunk beds, children’s toys, automatic garage door openers, walk behind lawn mowers, high chairs, bicycle helmets, and portable gasoline containers. There are also federal requirements for many more materials including metals, plastics, arid textiles related to toxic substances, such as lead.
But most products are governed by industry, known as voluntary, not mandatory, standards. These are created by independent organizations, and typically are seated also by active industry companies’ own employees. These groups include ASTM International and Underwriters Laboratories, that bring together manufacturers, and sometimes academics, regulators, and sometimes consumer advocates to set the rules.