Recently, I traveled to Atlanta to visit three companies: Graco, a Newell Rubbermaid Company, Regal-Lager, a distributer of higher-end juvenile products, and Colgate Mattress Co., a family-owned and operated manufacturer of children’s mattresses. The products that these companies sell, manufacture or import are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Each company impressed me with their commitment to safety. The leadership at each company was either directly involved or intimately aware of the dynamics and issues of the voluntary standard committees and the regulatory agenda(s) that affect their business(es).
There were recurring themes that emerged throughout my tours, as there have been throughout many of my visits. The companies want to have a good working relationship with the CPSC. They are committed to making and selling exceptional nursery and children’s products that are reliable, dependable and responsive to the demands and needs of today’s modern parents and caregivers. These industry leaders are on the forefront of their respective industries and closely involved with the CPSC, so by extension, the American consumer, will only benefit from a high quality and ongoing interaction with them.
The second recurring theme was regarding the voluntary standards process. I listened to frustration and angst about the uncompromising tone the CPSC uses to approach warning labels. Industry is in agreement that a warning label, albeit the third tier of safety tools, is useful. Yet, there seems to be a disconnect by CPSC to industry’s feedback and strong concerns about the CPSC warning label recommendations. These discussions were extremely relevant as there are three durable nursery product related packages that are currently out for comment; Infant Bouncer Seats, Children’s Folding Chairs and Stools, and Safety Standard for High Chairs.
The CPSC must be thoughtful, reasonable and take a balanced approach to regulation. The CPSIA provided the CPSC with additional legal leverage to influence durable nursery standards and while sometimes it may be necessary to fortify a voluntary standard, if overplayed this additional legal authority could undermine a congressionally endorsed voluntary standards process.
The juvenile product industry is made up of the same people for whom they craft, sell and distribute their product: families. As a government agency, we should proceed with caution. A one size fits all approach does not work for the American system; lest we stifle what makes us great: hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, free enterprise and the creative energy of American people.
Please, all who are impacted by the durable nursery packages that are currently out for comment, express your thoughts and opinions to the agency. We need to hear from you. We need your expertise. I look forward to reading your comments and hearing your position as well as your concerns.