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A closer look at the Consumer Product Safety Commission

From time to time this blog has highlighted various recalls that affect residents of Louisiana. This blog entry will focus on the federal agency that issues all the recalls for defective products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) attempts to keep consumers safe from harmful products made available in the marketplace. The important agency has been shaped by two federal statutes.

The first is the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). This statute went into effect in 1972 and established the agency. This is the umbrella statute by which the CPSC operates. The Consumer Product Safety Act gave the CPSC the federal authority needed to operate the agency and the ability to develop standards and bans that affect all consumers. This operating power enables the CPSC to issue recalls and to ban extremely dangerous products from use in the United States.

The other important statute is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act or CPSIA. The CPSIA added to the authority given by the CPSA. It was enacted in 2008. It added to the regulatory and enforcement tools that are available to CPSC. For example, this act addressed issues with third-party testing and certification, as well as lead, phthalates and toy safety. It also addressed the civil and criminal penalties that can be levied by the CPSC. As recent as 2011, H.R. 2715 was passed. This amended the CPSIA and gave greater authority and discretion to the agency.

In addition to these two major statues, there are other statutes that point to specific consumer safety issues that affect product liability cases. One such statute is the Child Safety Protection Act or CSPA that creates federal standards to protect children from choking hazards.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission, "Statutes," last accessed Feb. 2, 2015

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