One of the very positive hallmarks of the new leadership at the CPSC is a desire to hear from all interested stakeholders on how to more effectively push forward the agency’s safety mission. The agency has offered several opportunities for input, and for those of us who share that goal, these opportunities should not be ignored.
First, the agency will be conducting a workshop on ways to improve the recall process, including the effectiveness of recalls. Recall effectiveness is a perennial topic of conversation at the agency so it is gratifying the agency is again looking at this topic. Both as a Commissioner and now in private law practice, I often hear complaints about the opaqueness of the process. Participation in the workshop offers an opportunity to give real suggestions on how to make the recall process work better. The workshop will be held on July 26, 2017, at the agency headquarters in Bethesda. Those interested in participating must sign up with the agency no later than July 3. Here is more information about the workshop.
Second, the agency is requesting comments on ways to reduce the regulatory burden imposed by agency rules in ways that do not diminish safety. This effort is especially welcome since many of the regulations issued by the agency over the past eight years did not consider ways to accomplish safety goals in less burdensome ways. When Congress told the agency to try to find ways to reduce the burden of testing, the agency went through a fantasy effort to comply and, not surprisingly, came up with very little. Indeed, about the best it could do was exempt from testing products made entirely from untreated wood from the trunks of trees (but not the branches—who knows what could be in branches!). (See here.)
Reducing unnecessary regulatory burden is important since this engenders respect and support for the agency. Rules that are outdated, overly complex, or impose requirements without regard to real and measurable safety results should be identified and either changed or repealed. The agency’s effort to collect information on burdens imposed by its regulations is a welcome first step in this process.
Nancy Nord joined OFW Law after completing an eight-year term as a Commissioner on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, serving from 2005 through 2013. Ms. Nord was Acting Chairman of the CPSC from July 2006 until June 2009.