Postpone Rules for ASTM Warning Consensus, CPSC Hears
Monday, January 4, 2016
Posted by: Lauren Schoener-Gaynor
CPSC should pause childcare-product rule-makings that involve instructions and warnings, 33 voluntary-standards stakeholders wrote the agency December 21. Their reason for the request is the tension between work at ASTM on more-harmonized language for such provisions and CPSC staffer's requests and proposals.
They wrote, "We believe the current actions and demands expressed by CPSC staff do not advance the safety of these products, provide justification for the warnings demanded, or promote the collaborative nature that we have been able to effect over the past several years."
The signers – mostly from industry or related associations and including leaders of numerous affected ASTM panels – asserted that in recent months they have perceived CPSC staff as unwilling to consider the real-world needs of voluntary standards and as insisting on arbitrary language changes without good justifications.
Especially troubling, they wrote, are Section 104 proposals that change the underlying voluntary standards wording "after it has been discussed and balloted on multiple occasions within the ASTM process." This has "created the perception amongst many participants at ASTM that we should simply not participate in the process because the CPSC will ultimately change the standard to what they want."
Moreover, they deemed CPSC proposals to be inconsistent, often relying on studies with questionable relevance to the requests, and they suggested that the agency's approach is undermining possibility for international harmonization. They further questioned if CPSC demands actually would improve safety and cautioned against suppressed flexibility and making "the U.S. market more cost prohibitive."
Involved is work by ASTM's F15 ad hoc panel on language, which is looking to create wordings to be used across many standards. CPSC staffers last month revealed (PSL, 12/21/15) that they were planning to send a letter – likely out in early January – to ASTM subcommittees explaining that they plan to use the ANSI Z535 series on safety information for consistency until the ad hoc work is complete.
At an ad hoc session a week before (PSL, 12/14/15), CPSC participants explained that agency thinking is that it would approach the outcomes of the panels work as baselines, but still might propose differences in Section 104 rule-makings if there were special considerations for a product or if future research demonstrated something else would be better.
Copyright 2016 Product Safety Letter. Used here with permission.