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CPSC Approves Adult Apparel Enforcement Discretion to Reduce Paperwork Requirement on Businesses

Release Date: March 04, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Effective March 25, 2016, under a new enforcement policy, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will not pursue compliance or enforcement actions against makers, importers or private labelers of certain adult apparel determined exempt from testing under CPSC’s flammability standard for not having a general conformity certificate (GCC) for adult wearing apparel.  CPSC unanimously approved the enforcement policy on February 24, 2016.  Even with the testing exemption and enforcement discretion for GCCs, wearing apparel must still comply with all flammability requirements under the Flammability Fabrics Act (FFA).

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) requires that any manufacturer or importer of a general use consumer product (i.e., non-children’s product) subject to any rule, ban, standard, or regulation under a statute enforced by CPSC, certify that the product complies with the relevant rules. The CPSIA contemplates that such certification, based on demonstrable evidence of product conformity, will give CPSC confidence that the product complies with the applicable rules and is safe for distribution and use.

Adult apparel, with few exceptions, is subject only to the flammability limits established under the FFA.  In 1984, based on its experience enforcing the FFA, CPSC determined that specific kinds of fabric (plain- or raised-fiber surface acrylic, modacrylic, nylon, olefin, polyester, wool or any plain-surface fabric weighing 2.6 ounces per square yard or more) would, by their nature, always meet those limits. CPSC’s clothing flammability standard exempts from testing garments made entirely from these fabrics [16 C.F.R. § 1610.1(d)].

Under the CPSIA, adult apparel products made of the fabrics CPSC has determined to be compliant – which comprise the majority of adult apparel – are subject to the certification requirement. Because such certification imposes costs for manufacturers and importers, without advancing compliance or product safety in this context, the Commission has exercised its enforcement discretion and will not pursue compliance or enforcement actions regarding certificates in these circumstances. 

This policy is estimated to provide about $250 million a year in paperwork burden relief, of which about 60 percent will have impacted small and medium-sized businesses.

Statement from Commissioner Joseph P. Mohorovic

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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