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JPMA Summit Keynote Address - Tuesday, March 15, 2011, Washington, DC

September 17, 2012

Thank you Gene for that kind introduction and thank you Brenda and the JPMA executive staff for the invitation to be here today. It is good to be back at this conference.

I believe that CPSC's accomplishments over the past year have made many homes and many nurseries safer for young children.

A lot of the progress that has been made in the juvenile product world involved CPSC working cooperatively with your industry on standards changes and corrective actions in the marketplace.

Many of these actions are tied to four key elements to creating a Safe Sleep environment for babies. I talked about these four points in my remarks last year.

First, we recalled many of the remaining dangerous cribs that needed to be fixed or removed from homes. Last year, 14 manufacturers stepped up and participated in voluntary recalls to provide consumers with repairs, credits or reimbursements to address the hazard associated with drop-side cribs.

Next, we established and continue to work on new performance standards that will lead to a marketplace filled with newly designed products.

Third, we are all making an effort to educate parents and caregivers at the earliest stage possible about what a safe nursery looks like.

And, finally, we have taken steps at CPSC to modernize our agency so that we can identify and respond to emerging hazards with the speed needed to prevent harm, not just react to it.

Let's talk more about the big accomplishment of 2010.

With the help of some in this room, CPSC ended last year on a very positive note when it came to the safety of babies and infants.

The vote in December to establish new and improved federal standards for full-size and non-full-size cribs was not only momentous, but it also was unanimous.

Working with ASTM and strengthening their 2009 consensus crib standard worked out very well. The result is one of the best crib standards in the world.

This approach is also a very good model for how CPSC and industry should approach future mandatory rules for juvenile products.

Now, there is still a lot of work ahead of us to make the crib rules a success. This is one of the main reasons why I am here today.

It is now in your hands to bring a new generation of safer cribs to the market. The timing, the styles, and the quantities are dependent upon your actions.

As you know, the demand is already great and it is growing every week.

But - I do not want competition to cause some manufacturers to rush production and fall short of adhering to all of the requirements of the new standards.

Quality and compliance are the keys to introducing safe cribs to new parents and caregivers.

Currently, there is just one U.S. laboratory, located in Buffalo, that is recognized by CPSC to test cribs for compliance to the new standard. We need more labs in place so that there can be testing of certain cribs made last year and all cribs made this year.

Your own testing program, combined with the independent testing requirement of the crib rule, can add a lot of value to what we are all trying to achieve.

A few companies are marketing cribs to the childcare industry representing them to be compliant with the new requirements. We are looking into those claims to ensure their accuracy.

I caution those who would make these claims to ensure they have a test report from a CPSC-recognized testing laboratory to support their claims.

We are also working closely with the major childcare associations and state licensing officials to clear up some confusion about how and when the new rules will go into effect.

We have held a series of conference calls to educate them about the effective date for manufacturers and retailers, the compliance date for places of public accommodation, and the impact of the standards on state laws.

So, now the ball is in your court. This is a great opportunity for your association and members to seize the moment to ensure children have a safer sleep.

If we succeed, it will be another step forward in our effort to restore the confidence of parents.

The staff at CPSC would like to hear from you about your progress and the challenges you face in the production process.

We want to have an open dialogue, so that we can be aware of any hurdles that arise before June.

The safety of babies is dependent upon your ability to innovate and bring new cribs to the market. I know you will deliver.

While we work on effectively implementing the crib rule, there are still more juvenile product rules to establish, as required by Section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Last year, we were able to establish new standards for baby walkers and baby bath seats, in addition to full-size and non-full-size cribs.

This year, we will be addressing new mandatory standards for toddler beds, bassinets, swings, bed rails and play yards.

The CPSIA calls for two new standards every six months.

We should have rules for toddler beds and bassinets this year, along with Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) for swings, bed rails, play yards, and bedside sleepers.

All of you who are impacted by these proposed rules are encouraged to provide your comments to CPSC during the NPR period.

As I mentioned earlier, CPSC is looking to you and ASTM to play a positive role in this process.

Ideally, I would like to see the consensus standards for these products strengthened and revised in advance of CPSC finalizing our rulemaking.

I would like to say a few words about two important products that garnered attention last fall: sleep positioners and crib bumpers.

About six months ago CPSC and the FDA teamed up to warn parents and caregivers to stop using infant sleep positioners.

We did not decide to issue such a stern warning capriciously. Technical staff from each agency conducted a great deal of research.

Fatalities caused by suffocation and false medical claims about preventing SIDS, GERD and colic were the key factors that influenced us.

CPSC and FDA issued a clear message to consumers: "Stop using these products."

Yet, the association's statements to the press about sleep positioners undermined the government's warning and made the message to parents less clear.

Let me be clear today, CPSC and FDA continue to believe that these products have no redeeming value. Manufacturers need to stop any marketing that involves medical claims until an application with supporting data is submitted and approved by the FDA.

Through our Safe Sleep campaign, we have dealt with cribs and sleep positioners-this leaves us with one last product commonly used in the crib-bumper pads.

We are currently taking a "fresh look" into the safety of crib bumpers.

Additional staff is reviewing more than 50 deaths in which a bumper is cited in the case file.

This is a challenging issue for CPSC. So far there is no evidence of a causal connection between crib bumpers and suffocation, when the product is used as intended.

What makes this a difficult issue is that many of the case files are old and there is insufficient information to make a scientific determination of the cause of death.

Yet, we are taking a deeper dive. We have decided to bring together outside scientific experts to peer review the analysis conducted by our human factors staff, health scientists, and the Safe Sleep team leader. We are in the process of selecting the peer review panel.

Because we are going through peer review, it will be a few months before we can announce our results.

As we complete our "fresh look," I ask that you not present CPSC's previous position on crib bumpers as our current position. We will be sure to share the results of our analysis with you, and we also look forward to reviewing the results in the near future of the special study commissioned by JPMA.

I would like to return for a moment to the requirements of Section 104 of the CPSIA and talk about product registration cards.

I've been encouraging families and consumers to fill out the cards. I don't want all of the effort and expense that you have invested in meeting this requirement to be wasted.

Please make the cards accessible to your customers - whether it is in paper form or online - and encourage them to fill it out.

I do not want this to be viewed as just another government mandate.

If we succeed in getting consumers to fill out these cards, it will mean that fewer babies, toddlers and young children will be exposed to dangerous or defective products after a recall.

We have research indicating that a parent, caregiver, or business that is notified directly about a recall is more likely to respond to the recall.

So, let's work together to get the word out to "fill them out."

In the spirit of keeping consumers informed, I would like to talk about the new Consumer Product Safety Information Database.

It's been up and running since last Friday and so far everything is going as planned.

I hope that all of you had chance to participate in one of our database workshops or at least view our tutorial videos.

I want to encourage every single manufacturer in this room and every single JPMA member to register your company through the industry portal.

It is highly recommended that you take steps to ensure that you are alerted via e-mail to any Report about your company and product. Electronic notification will afford you the full 10 day period to review the Report and tell us if something is materially inaccurate, confidential, or if you wish to post a comment.

You may have heard that there is a back-log in processing registration requests from businesses. This is not true. If you haven't registered, please do so right away; it doesn't take a lot of time.

The staff at CPSC and I take the protections that were put in place for you and your company very seriously. To maximize the time you have to avail yourself of these protections, I also recommend that you have a system in place to expeditiously review and respond to CPSC when we tell you about a Report.

A key point that I want the business community to be aware of is that we are committed to carefully reviewing each claim and making sure that all of the requirements are met.

Not all of the reports that come in through the website will qualify to go up onto the database. We need reports to be accurate and safety-based, and at CPSC, we need to make sure the right company is being notified.

Where there is doubt about who is the manufacturer or the private labeler or the licensor, we are going to take a cautious and conservative approach.

I know many of you here still have reservations about this database. We received a letter from NAM last week, which JPMA supported, and we are taking the requests made in that letter seriously.

I neither want nor expect to be a site that is used to malign companies. To prevent this, we are working hard to educate consumers about how to use the site, how to use the site for the right reasons, and that there are serious consequences if false information is submitted intentionally.

I hope and expect that the website generates more safety-based reporting by consumers.

If the database works as intended, we will be able to use the data provided by consumers to connect the dots on emerging hazards faster than before.

I also envision the site empowering consumers to make independent decisions that further their safety and the safety of their family.

I would like to close my remarks today by sharing with you that my goal for 2011 is that it be the "Year to Get Connected with CPSC."

We want to continue to expand the connections we have with consumers. Through Twitter, our blog, widget, phone app, Hotline, websites, and soon Facebook, we are increasing the number of touch points we have with consumers.

We also want to be more connected with the business community. With the availability of our Small Business Ombudsman, the ability to submit and search for public comments, and the opportunity to provide testimony at Commission hearings, we are expanding the ways that you can interact with us.

I hope you will take advantage of the many opportunities we offer to provide your insights to the agency and we hope you consider all of the information that we disseminate just for the regulated community.

There is another way, an easy way, in which the JPMA community can connect with CPSC and that is to share our "Safe Sleep for Babies" video with your constituents.

We are really proud of this video - it features Joan Lunden; Dr. Marion Burton, the president of the AAP; Joyce Davis, the president of Keeping Babies Safe, and myself. It is available online and as a DVD, and it informs new parents about the steps they can take to create a safe sleep environment for their baby.

We would appreciate if you linked to it on your website or touted it through your own social media platforms. Thank you for considering this request

I am proud of the direction that we are heading at CPSC. We are trying hard to demonstrate that we can be more agile and more capable of stepping in front of emerging hazards.

I believe we have the right teams in place at the agency - teams willing to work in partnership with those who are committed to advancing product safety.

Being proactive and collaborative are the keys to our regulatory approach.

If all of us can be partners in this effort, I know that we can build upon the progress that has been made in recent years.

Thank you all for your time today. I look forward to continuing to work with the association and each of you.

Enjoy the rest of the summit and your time in Washington.

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