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Title 16Chapter IISubchapter APart 1031 → Subpart A


Title 16: Commercial Practices
PART 1031—COMMISSION PARTICIPATION AND COMMISSION EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT IN VOLUNTARY STANDARDS ACTIVITIES


Subpart A—General Policies


Contents
§1031.1   Purpose and scope.
§1031.2   Background.
§1031.3   Consumer Product Safety Act amendments.
§1031.4   Effect of voluntary standards activities on Commission activities.
§1031.5   Criteria for Commission involvement in voluntary standards activities.
§1031.6   Extent and form of Commission involvement in the development of voluntary standards.
§1031.7   Commission support of voluntary standards activities.
§1031.8   Voluntary Standards Coordinator.

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§1031.1   Purpose and scope.

(a) This part 1031 sets forth the Consumer Product Safety Commission's guidelines and requirements on participating in the activities of voluntary standards bodies. Subpart A sets forth general policies on Commission involvement, and subpart B sets forth policies and guidelines on employee involvement in voluntary standards activities. Subpart C sets forth the criteria governing public review and comment on staff involvement in voluntary standards activities.

(b) For purposes of both subpart A and subpart B of this part 1031, voluntary standards bodies are private sector domestic or multinational organizations or groups, or combinations thereof, such as, but not limited to, all non-profit organizations, industry associations, professional and technical societies, institutes, and test laboratories, that are involved in the planning, development, establishment, revision, review or coordination of voluntary standards. Voluntary standards development bodies are voluntary standards bodies, or their sub-groups, that are devoted to developing or establishing voluntary standards.

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§1031.2   Background.

(a) Congress enacted the Consumer Product Safety Act in 1972 to protect consumers against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products. In order to achieve that goal, Congress established the Consumer Product Safety Commission as an independent regulatory agency and granted it broad authority to promulgate mandatory safety standards for consumer products as a necessary alternative to industry self regulation.

(b) In 1981, the Congress amended the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, and the Flammable Fabrics Act, to require the Commission to rely on voluntary standards rather than promulgate a mandatory standard when voluntary standards would eliminate or adequately reduce the risk of injury addressed and it is likely that there will be substantial compliance with the voluntary standards. (15 U.S.C. 2056(b), 15 U.S.C. 1262(g)(2), 15 U.S.C. 1193(h)(2)). The 1981 Amendments also require the Commission, after any notice or advance notice of proposed rulemaking, to provide technical and administrative assistance to persons or groups who propose to develop or modify an appropriate voluntary standard. (15 U.S.C. 2054(a)(3)). Additionally, the amendments encourage the Commission to provide technical and administrative assistance to groups developing product safety standards and test methods, taking into account Commission resources and priorities (15 U.S.C. 2054(a)(4)). Although the Commission is required to provide assistance to such groups, it may determine the level of assistance in accordance with the level of its own administrative and technical resources and in accordance with its assessment of the likelihood that the groups being assisted will successfully develop a voluntary standard that will preclude the need for a mandatory standard.

(c) In 1990, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), amending section 15(b) of the CPSA to require that manufacturers, distributors, and retailers notify the Commission about products that fail to comply with an applicable voluntary standard upon which the Commission has relied under section 9 of the CPSA. CPSIA also amended section 9(b)(2) of the CPSA to require that the CPSC afford interested persons the opportunity to comment regarding any voluntary standard prior to CPSC termination and reliance.

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§1031.3   Consumer Product Safety Act amendments.

The Consumer Product Safety Act, as amended, contains several sections pertaining to the Commission's participation in the development and use of voluntary standards.

(a) Section 7(b) provides that the Commission shall rely on voluntary consumer product safety standards prescribing requirements described in subsection (a) whenever compliance with such voluntary standards would eliminate or adequately reduce the risk of injury addressed and it is likely that there will be substantial compliance with such voluntary standards. (15 U.S.C. 2056(b)).

(b) Section 5(a)(3) provides that the Commission shall, following publication of an advance notice of proposed rulemaking or a notice of proposed rulemaking for a product safety rule under any rulemaking authority administered by the Commission, assist public and private organizations or groups of manufacturers, administratively and technically, in the development of safety standards addressing the risk of injury identified in such notice. (15 U.S.C. 2054(a)(3)).

(c) Section 5(a)(4) provides that the Commission shall, to the extent practicable and appropriate (taking into account the resources and priorities of the Commission), assist public and private organizations or groups of manufacturers, administratively and technically, in the development of product safety standards and test methods. (15 U.S.C. 2054(a)(4)).

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§1031.4   Effect of voluntary standards activities on Commission activities.

(a)(1) The Commission, in determining whether to begin proceedings to develop mandatory standards under the acts it administers, considers whether mandatory regulation is necessary or whether there is an existing voluntary standard that adequately addresses the problem and the extent to which that voluntary standard is complied with by the affected industry.

(2) The Commission acknowledges that there are situations in which adequate voluntary standards, in combination with appropriate certification programs, may be appropriate to support a conclusion that a mandatory standard is not necessary. The Commission may find that a mandatory standard is not necessary where compliance with an existing voluntary standard would eliminate or adequately reduce the risk of injury associated with the product, contains requirements and test methods that have been evaluated and found acceptable by the Commission, and it is likely that there will be substantial and timely compliance with the voluntary standard. Under such circumstances, the Commission may agree to encourage industry compliance with the voluntary standard and subsequently evaluate the effectiveness of the standard in terms of accident and injury reduction for products produced in compliance with the standard.

(3) In evaluating voluntary standards, the Commission will relate the requirements of the standard to the identified risks of injury and evaluate the requirements in terms of their effectiveness in eliminating or reducing the risks of injury. The evaluation of voluntary standards will be conducted by Commission staff members, including representatives of legal, economics, engineering, epidemiological, health sciences, human factors, other appropriate interests, and the Voluntary Standards Coordinator. The staff evaluation will be conducted in a manner similar to evaluations of standards being considered for promulgation as mandatory standards.

(4) In the event that the Commission has evaluated an existing voluntary standard and found it to be adequate in all but a few areas, the Commission may defer the initiation of a mandatory rulemaking proceeding and request the voluntary standards organization to revise the standard to address the identified inadequacies expeditiously.

(b) In the event the Commission determines that there is no existing voluntary standard that will eliminate or adequately reduce a risk of injury the Commission may commence a proceeding for the development of a consumer product safety rule or a regulation in accordance with section 9 of the Consumer Product Safety Act, 15 U.S.C. 2058, section 3(f) of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, 15 U.S.C. 1262(f), or section 4(a) of the Flammable Fabrics Act, 15 U.S.C. 1193(g), as may be applicable. In commencing such a proceeding, the Commission will publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking which shall, among other things, invite any person to submit to the Commission an existing standard or portion of an existing standard, or to submit a statement of intention to modify or develop, within a reasonable period of time, a voluntary standard to address the risk of injury.

(c) The Commission will consider those provisions of a voluntary standard that have been reviewed, evaluated, and deemed to be adequate in addressing the specified risks of injury when initiating a mandatory consumer product safety rule or regulation under the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, or the Flammable Fabrics Act, as may be applicable. Comments will be requested in the advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the adequacy of such voluntary standard provisions.

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§1031.5   Criteria for Commission involvement in voluntary standards activities.

The Commission will consider the extent to which the following criteria are met in considering Commission involvement in the development of voluntary safety standards for consumer products:

(a) The likelihood the voluntary standard will eliminate or adequately reduce the risk of injury addressed and that there will be substantial and timely compliance with the voluntary standard.

(b) The likelihood that the voluntary standard will be developed within a reasonable period of time.

(c) Exclusion, to the maximum extent possible, from the voluntary standard being developed, of requirements which will create anticompetitive effects or promote restraint of trade.

(d) Provisions for periodic and timely review of the standard, including review for anticompetitive effects, and revision or amendment as the need arises.

(e) Performance-oriented and not design-restrictive requirements, to the maximum practical extent, in any standard developed.

(f) Industry arrangements for achieving substantial and timely industry compliance with the voluntary standard once it is issued, and the means of ascertaining such compliance based on overall market share of product production.

(g) Provisions in the standard for marking products conforming to the standard so that future Commission investigation can indicate the involvement of such products in accidents and patterns of injury.

(h) Provisions for insuring that products identified as conforming to such standards will be subjected to a testing and certification (including self-certification) procedure, which will provide assurance that the products comply with the standard.

(i) The openness to all interested parties, and the establishment of procedures which will provide for meaningful participation in the development of such standards by representatives of producers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, consumers, small business, public interests and other individuals having knowledge or expertise in the areas under consideration, and procedures for affording other due process considerations.

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§1031.6   Extent and form of Commission involvement in the development of voluntary standards.

(a) The extent of Commission involvement will be dependent upon the Commission's interest in the particular standards development activity and the Commission's priorities and resources.

(b) The Commission's interest in a specific voluntary standards activity will be based in part on the frequency and severity of injuries associated with the product, the involvement of the product in accidents, the susceptibility of the hazard to correction through standards, and the overall resources and priorities of the Commission. Commission involvement in voluntary standards activities generally will be guided by the Commission's operating plan and performance budget.

(c) Commission involvement in voluntary standards activities varies.

(1) The Commission staff may maintain an awareness of the voluntary standards development process through oral or written inquiries, receiving and reviewing minutes of meetings and copies of draft standards, or attending meetings for the purpose of observing and commenting during the standards development process in accordance with subpart B of this part. For example, Commission staff may respond to requests from voluntary standards organizations, standards development committees, trade associations and consumer organizations; by providing information concerning the risks of injury associated with particular products, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data, death, injury, and incident data, summaries and analyses of in-depth investigation reports; discussing Commission goals and objectives with regard to voluntary standards and improved consumer product safety; responding to requests for information concerning Commission programs; and initiating contacts with voluntary standards organizations to discuss cooperative voluntary standards activities.

(2) Employee involvement may include membership as defined in §1031.10(a). Commission staff may regularly attend meetings of a standard development committee or group and take an active part in the discussions of the committee and in developing the standard, in accordance with subpart B of this part. The Commission may contribute to the deliberations of the committee by expending resources to provide technical assistance (e.g., research, engineering support, and information and education programs) and administrative assistance (e.g., travel costs, hosting meetings, and secretarial functions) in support of the development and implementation of those voluntary standards referenced in the Commission's operating plan, performance budget, mid-year review, or other official Commission document. The Commission may also support voluntary standards activities as described in §1031.7. Employee involvement may include observation as defined in §1031.10(c).

(d) Normally, the total amount of Commission support given to a voluntary standards activity shall be no greater than that of all non-Federal participants in that activity, except where it is in the public interest to do so.

(e) In the event of duplication of effort by two or more groups (either inside or outside the Commission) in developing a voluntary standard for the same product or class of products, the Commission shall encourage the several groups to cooperate in the development of a single voluntary standard.

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§1031.7   Commission support of voluntary standards activities.

(a) The Commission's support of voluntary safety standards development activities may include any one or a combination of the following actions:

(1) Providing epidemiological and health science information and explanations of hazards for consumer products.

(2) Encouraging the initiation of the development of voluntary standards for specific consumer products.

(3) Identifying specific risks of injury to be addressed in a voluntary standard.

(4) Performing or subsidizing technical assistance, including research, health science data, and engineering support, in the development of a voluntary standard activity in which the Commission staff is participating.

(5) Providing assistance on methods of disseminating information and education about the voluntary standard or its use.

(6) Performing a staff evaluation of a voluntary standard to determine its adequacy and efficacy in reducing the risks of injury that have been identified by the Commission as being associated with the use of the product.

(7) Encouraging state and local governments to reference or incorporate the provisions of a voluntary standard in their regulations or ordinances and to participate in government or industrial model code development activities, so as to develop uniformity and minimize conflicting State and local regulations.

(8) Monitoring the number and market share of products conforming to a voluntary safety standard.

(9) Providing for the involvement of agency personnel in voluntary standards activities as described in subpart B of this part.

(10) Providing administrative assistance, such as hosting meetings and secretarial assistance.

(11) Providing funding support for voluntary standards development, as permitted by the operating plan, performance budget, mid-year review, or other official Commission document.

(12) Taking other actions that the Commission believes appropriate in a particular situation.

(b) [Reserved]

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§1031.8   Voluntary Standards Coordinator.

(a) The Executive Director shall appoint a Voluntary Standards Coordinator to coordinate agency participation in voluntary standards bodies so that:

(1) The most effective use is made of agency personnel and resources, and

(2) The views expressed by such personnel are in the public interest and, at a minimum, do not conflict with the interests and established views of the agency.

(b) The Voluntary Standards Coordinator is responsible for managing the Commission's voluntary standards program, as well as preparing and submitting to the Commission a semiannual summary of staff's voluntary standards activities. The summary shall set forth, among other things, the goals of each voluntary standard under development, the extent of CPSC staff activity, the current status of standards development and implementation, and, if any, recommendations for additional Commission action. The Voluntary Standards Coordinator shall also compile information on the Commission's voluntary standards activities for the Commission's annual report.

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