Senate Passes Bill to Step Up Child Safety
By: Gerri L. Elder
Congress is concerned about your child's safety, and is acting to help prevent children from becoming injured by consumer products. A bill designed to make children's products safer has passed the United States Senate.
The Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act (HR4040) increases the safety level of these products through new regulations and restrictions on the types of materials that can be used in products designed for children.
The Jurist reported that this important piece of legislation establishes a maximum level of lead and places a ban on the use of certain types of plastics.
Additionally, manufacturers will be required to have products intended for children independently tested and properly labeled.
The bill also addresses specific standards and consumer registration of durable nursery products, and provides labeling requirements for certain Internet and catalog advertising of toys and games.
The legislation also seeks to modernize the Consumer Product Safety Commission and give the commission more authority in establishing general standards for children's products and toys to reduce preventable injuries and deaths due to defective products.
HR4040 was first passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 424-1 and was sent to the U.S. Senate. The Senate also passed the bill with an overwhelming majority in an 89-3 vote. President Bush has said that he will sign the bill into law.
Under the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act, the Consumer Product Safety Commission will consult with representatives of consumer groups, juvenile product manufacturers, and independent child product engineers and experts to study and evaluate the effectiveness of any voluntary consumer product safety standards for durable infant and toddler products.
The Commission will then enact new product safety rules that are essentially identical to or more stringent than the voluntary standards in cases where the Commission finds that stricter standards would be effective in further reducing the risk of injury to children. The Act regulates all products intended for children 12 years old and younger.
Consumer Product Safety Commission Acting Chairman Nancy Lord issued a press release applauding the passage of HR4040. Lord said that while the Commission will need more funding, it will ensure that all of the provisions of the bill are implemented "fully, fairly and in the way that best serves consumers."
Between August and October of 2007, toy manufacturer Mattel recalled approximately 21 million toys because they contained illegal lead paint or magnets that could become detached from the toys and cause serious injuries or death to children.
Following the massive product recalls, a public Michigan pension fund filed a derivative action against Mattel, alleging misconduct by the toy giant for failing to report known toy defects to federal regulators.
Mattel has also been sued in class action and personal injury lawsuits filed by consumers who allege that their children were injured by the recalled toys and ask that Mattel pay for lead testing for the children that were exposed to the defective products.