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Third Party Testing for Certain Children's Products; Toddler Beds: Requirements for Accreditation of Third Party Conformity Assessment Bodies

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Consumer Product Safety Commission.

ACTION:

Notice of requirements.

SUMMARY:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or Commission) is issuing a notice of requirements that provides the criteria and process for Commission acceptance of accreditation of third party conformity assessment bodies for testing pursuant to the CPSC regulation relating to toddler beds. The Commission is issuing this notice of requirements pursuant to section 14(a)(3)(B)(vi) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) (15 U.S.C. 2063(a)(3)(B)(vi)).

DATES:

Effective Date: The requirements for accreditation of third party conformity assessment bodies to assess conformity with 16 CFR part 1217 are effective April 20, 2011.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Robert “Jay” Howell, Assistant Executive Director for Hazard Identification and Reduction, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, Maryland 20814; e-mail rhowell@cpsc.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

Section 14(a)(3)(B)(vi) of the CPSA, as added by section 102(a)(2) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), Public Law 110-314, directs the CPSC to publish a notice of requirements for accreditation of third party conformity assessment bodies to assess children's products for conformity with “other children's product safety rules.” Section 14(f)(1) of the CPSA defines “children's product safety rule” as “a consumer product safety rule under [the CPSA] or similar rule, regulation, standard, or ban under any other Act enforced by the Commission, including a rule declaring a consumer product to be a banned hazardous product or substance.” Under section 14(a)(3)(A) of the CPSA, each manufacturer (including the importer) or private labeler of products subject to those regulations must have products that are manufactured more than 90 days after the Federal Register publication date of a notice of the requirements for accreditation, tested by a third party conformity assessment body accredited to do so, and must issue a certificate of compliance with the applicable regulations based on that testing. Section 14(a)(2) of the CPSA, as added by section 102(a)(2) of the CPSIA, requires that certification be based on testing of sufficient samples of the Start Printed Page 22031product, or samples that are identical in all material respects to the product. The Commission also emphasizes that, irrespective of certification, the product in question must comply with applicable CPSC requirements (see, e.g., section 14(h) of the CPSA, as added by section 102(b) of the CPSIA).

This notice provides the criteria and process for Commission acceptance of accreditation of third party conformity assessment bodies for testing pursuant to the safety standard for toddler beds, which appears elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register. The standard for toddler beds will be codified at 16 CFR part 1217. The standard contains the test methods that conformity assessment bodies will use to assess toddler beds. The Commission is recognizing limited circumstances in which it will accept certifications based on product testing conducted before the toddler bed standard becomes effective in six months. The details regarding those limited circumstances can be found in part IV of this document below.

Although section 14(a)(3)(B)(vi) of the CPSA directs the CPSC to publish a notice of requirements for accreditation of third party conformity assessment bodies to assess conformity with “all other children's product safety rules,” this notice of requirements is limited to the regulation identified immediately above.

The CPSC also recognizes that section 14(a)(3)(B)(vi) of the CPSA is captioned: “All Other Children's Product Safety Rules,” but the body of the statutory requirement refers only to “other children's product safety rules.” Nevertheless, section 14(a)(3)(B)(vi) of the CPSA could be construed to require a notice of requirements for “all” other children's product safety rules, rather than as a notice of requirements for “some” or “certain” children's product safety rules. However, whether a particular rule represents a “children's product safety rule” may be subject to interpretation, and Commission staff is continuing to evaluate which rules, regulations, standards, or bans constitute “children's product safety rules.” The CPSC intends to issue additional notices of requirements for other rules that the Commission determines to be “children's product safety rules.”

This notice of requirements applies to all third party conformity assessment bodies as described in section 14(f)(2) of the CPSA. Generally speaking, such third party conformity assessment bodies are: (1) Third party conformity assessment bodies that are not owned, managed, or controlled by a manufacturer or private labeler of a children's product to be tested by the third party conformity assessment body for certification purposes; (2) “firewalled” conformity assessment bodies (those that are owned, managed, or controlled by a manufacturer or private labeler of a children's product to be tested by the third party conformity assessment body for certification purposes and that seek accreditation under the additional statutory criteria for “firewalled” conformity assessment bodies); and (3) third party conformity assessment bodies owned or controlled, in whole or in part, by a government.

The Commission requires baseline accreditation of each category of third party conformity assessment body to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Standard 17025:2005, “General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories.” The accreditation must be by an accreditation body that is a signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation—Mutual Recognition Arrangement (ILAC-MRA), and the scope of the accreditation must include testing for any of the test methods identified earlier in part I of this document for which the third party conformity assessment body seeks to be accredited.

(A description of the history and content of the ILAC-MRA approach and of the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025:2005 laboratory accreditation standard is provided in the CPSC staff briefing memorandum, “Third Party Conformity Assessment Body Accreditation Requirements for Testing Compliance With 16 CFR Part 1501 (Small Parts Regulations),” dated November 2008, and available on the CPSC's Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov/​library/​foia/​foia09/​brief/​smallparts.pdf.)

The Commission has established an electronic accreditation registration and listing system that can be accessed via its Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov/​about/​cpsia/​labaccred.html.

As stated in part I of this document, the Commission, elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, is issuing a new standard for toddler beds that will be codified at 16 CFR part 1217. This notice of requirements is effective on April 20, 2011. The final rule announcing the Safety Standard for Toddler Beds is effective on October 20, 2011. The effect of these twin publications is that each manufacturer (including the importer) or private labeler of a product subject to 16 CFR part 1217 must have any such product manufactured on or after October 20, 2011, tested by a third party conformity assessment body accredited to do so and must issue a certificate of compliance with 16 CFR part 1217 based on that testing.

This notice of requirements is exempt from the notice and comment rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553 (see section 14(a)(3)(G) of the CPSA, as added by section 102(a)(2) of the CPSIA (15 U.S.C. 2063(a)(3)(G))).

II. Accreditation Requirements

A. Baseline Third Party Conformity Assessment Body Accreditation Requirements

For a third party conformity assessment body to be accredited to test children's products for conformity with the test methods identified earlier in part I of this document, it must be accredited by an ILAC-MRA signatory accrediting body, and the accreditation must be registered with, and accepted by, the Commission. A listing of ILAC-MRA signatory accrediting bodies is available on the Internet at http://ilac.org/​membersbycategory.html. The accreditation must be to ISO Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005, “General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories,” and the scope of the accreditation must expressly include testing to the test method for toddler beds included in 16 CFR part 1217, Safety Standard for Toddler Beds. A true copy, in English, of the accreditation and scope documents demonstrating compliance with these requirements must be registered with the Commission electronically. The additional requirements for accreditation of firewalled and governmental conformity assessment bodies are described in parts II.B and II.C of this document below.

The Commission will maintain on its Web site an up-to-date listing of third party conformity assessment bodies whose accreditations it has accepted and the scope of each accreditation. Once the Commission adds a third party conformity assessment body to that list, the third party conformity assessment body may commence testing of toddler beds to support certification by the manufacturer or private labeler of compliance with the test methods identified earlier in part I of this document.

B. Additional Accreditation Requirements for Firewalled Conformity Assessment Bodies

In addition to the baseline accreditation requirements in part II.A of this document, firewalled conformity assessment bodies seeking accredited Start Printed Page 22032status must submit to the Commission copies, in English, of their training documents showing how employees are trained to notify the Commission immediately and confidentially of any attempt by the manufacturer, private labeler, or other interested party to hide or exert undue influence over the third party conformity assessment body's test results. This additional requirement applies to any third party conformity assessment body in which a manufacturer or private labeler of a children's product to be tested by the third party conformity assessment body owns an interest of 10 percent or more. While the Commission is not addressing common parentage of a third party conformity assessment body and a children's product manufacturer at this time, it will be vigilant to determine whether this issue needs to be addressed in the future.

As required by section 14(f)(2)(D) of the CPSA, the Commission must formally accept, by order, the accreditation application of a third party conformity assessment body before the third party conformity assessment body can become an accredited firewalled conformity assessment body. The Commission's order must also find that accrediting the firewalled conformity assessment body would provide equal or greater consumer safety protection than the manufacturer's or private labeler's use of an independent conformity assessment body.

C. Additional Accreditation Requirements for Governmental Conformity Assessment Bodies

In addition to the baseline accreditation requirements of part II.A of this document above, the CPSIA permits accreditation of a third party conformity assessment body owned or controlled, in whole or in part, by a government if:

  • To the extent practicable, manufacturers or private labelers located in any nation are permitted to choose conformity assessment bodies that are not owned or controlled by the government of that nation;
  • The third party conformity assessment body's testing results are not subject to undue influence by any other person, including another governmental entity;
  • The third party conformity assessment body is not accorded more favorable treatment than other third party conformity assessment bodies in the same nation who have been accredited;
  • The third party conformity assessment body's testing results are accorded no greater weight by other governmental authorities than those of other accredited third party conformity assessment bodies; and
  • The third party conformity assessment body does not exercise undue influence over other governmental authorities on matters affecting its operations or on decisions by other governmental authorities controlling distribution of products based on outcomes of the third party conformity assessment body's conformity assessments.

The Commission will accept the accreditation of a governmental third party conformity assessment body if it meets the baseline accreditation requirements of part II.A of this document and meets the additional conditions stated here. To obtain this assurance, CPSC staff will engage the governmental entities relevant to the accreditation request.

III. How does a third party conformity assessment body apply for acceptance of its accreditation?

The Commission has established an electronic accreditation acceptance and registration system accessed via the Commission's Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov/​about/​cpsia/​labaccred.html. The applicant provides, in English, basic identifying information concerning its location, the type of accreditation it is seeking, and electronic copies of its ILAC-MRA accreditation certificate and scope statement, and firewalled third party conformity assessment body training document(s), if relevant.

Commission staff will review the submission for accuracy and completeness. In the case of baseline third party conformity assessment bodies and government-owned or government-operated conformity assessment bodies, when that review and any necessary discussions with the applicant are completed satisfactorily, the third party conformity assessment body in question is added to the CPSC's list of accredited third party conformity assessment bodies at http://www.cpsc.gov/​about/​cpsia/​labaccred.html. In the case of a firewalled conformity assessment body seeking accredited status, when the staff's review is complete, the staff transmits its recommendation on accreditation to the Commission for consideration. (A third party conformity assessment body that ultimately may seek acceptance as a firewalled third party conformity assessment body may initially request acceptance as a third party conformity assessment body accredited for testing of children's products other than those of its owners.) If the Commission accepts a staff recommendation to accredit a firewalled conformity assessment body, the firewalled conformity assessment body then will be added to the CPSC's list of accepted third party conformity assessment bodies. In each case, the Commission will notify the third party conformity assessment body electronically of acceptance of its accreditation. All information to support an accreditation acceptance request must be provided in the English language.

Once the Commission adds a third party conformity assessment body to the list, the third party conformity assessment body then may begin testing of children's products to support certification of compliance with the regulation identified earlier in part I of this document for which it has been accredited.

IV. Acceptance of Children's Product Certifications Based on Third Party Conformity Assessment Body Testing to the New Safety Standard for Toddler Beds Prior to Their Effective Date

Elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, the Commission is publishing a new safety standard for toddler beds, which will be codified at 16 CFR part 1217. The effect of this notice of requirements and the final rule is that each manufacturer (including the importer) or private labeler of a product subject to 16 CFR part 1217 must have any such product manufactured on or after October 20, 2011, tested by a third party conformity assessment body accredited to do so and must issue a certificate of compliance with 16 CFR part 1217 based on that testing.

To ease the transition to the new standards and avoid a “bottlenecking” of products at conformity assessment bodies at or near the effective date of 16 CFR part 1217, the Commission will accept certifications based on testing that occurred prior to the effective date of the new standard in certain prescribed circumstances. However, any such testing must comport with all CPSC requirements, including:

1. The product [1] was tested by a third party conformity assessment body that was ISO/IEC 17025 accredited by a signatory to the ILAC-MRA at the time of the test. For firewalled conformity assessment bodies, the firewalled conformity assessment body must be one that the Commission has accredited by order at or before the time the Start Printed Page 22033product was tested, even if the order did not include the test methods specified in this notice. If the third party conformity assessment body has not been accredited as a firewalled conformity assessment body by a Commission order, the Commission will not accept a certificate of compliance based on testing performed by the third party conformity assessment body before it is accredited, by Commission order, as a firewalled conformity assessment body;

2. The third party conformity assessment body's application is accepted by the CPSC by October 20, 2011, as established by the Commission;

3. The test results show compliance with 16 CFR part 1217;

4. The product was tested on or after April 20, 2011 and before October 20, 2011; and

5. The third party conformity assessment body's accreditation remains in effect through the effective date for mandatory third party testing and manufacturer/private labeler certification for the subject product's respective regulation.

Start Signature

Dated: April 14, 2011.

Todd A. Stevenson,

Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  The CPSIA requires that certification be based on testing of sufficient samples of the product or samples that are identical in all material respects to the product.

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[FR Doc. 2011-9422 Filed 4-19-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6355-01-P