Staff from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, together with product safety authorities from Australia, Canada, and Europe, launched on February 24 a collaborative pilot project to improve the safety of corded window coverings, chair-top booster seats, and baby slings through closely-aligned safety requirements.
The participants will seek consensus on the hazards of these products to children and potential solutions for reducing the hazards. Each jurisdiction could use the consensus positions to develop regulations or voluntary standards, according to their preferred model. The goal is to achieve closely aligned requirements that will reduce injuries and save lives.
Aligning consumer product safety requirements around the world is a shared goal among regulatory bodies and some regulated industries. Consumers have questioned how a product can be considered safe for children in one country, but hazardous for children in another part of the world. Manufacturers often argue that differing requirements from multiple jurisdictions can add complexity to the manufacturing process, and that complexity increases the risk of error and the costs of manufacturing.
International alignment to a high level of safety offers a potential solution to these challenges. The participants agree that alignment efforts always should be aimed at improving safety.
A participating jurisdiction may choose to develop a regulatory approach from a consensus position, or it can consider a standards development organization (SDO) to perform technical standards development from the consensus recommendations. If a jurisdiction chooses the latter approach, agency experts will share the consensus recommendations and encourage the SDO to collaborate with relevant SDOs affiliated with the markets of other participating agencies to achieve closely aligned standards.
Experts from the participating agencies believe that coordination among the SDOs is the key to success. They also believe that the consensus positions should unite around mutually agreeable arrangements between the SDOs involved and the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) process.