Closer look: New CPSC certification, labeling requirements could affect industry
In February, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission imposed new certification and labeling requirements applicable to architectural glazing materials installed in hazardous locations under the jurisdiction of CPSC. The rules require, for the first time, manufacturer certifications of compliance with CPSC 16 CFR 1201, the federal safety standard for architectural glazing materials, to include the business address and telephone number of the safety glazing materials fabricator and the identity of and contact information for those responsible for maintaining testing records. Failure to comply can result in significant fines for each offense.
Per prior CPSC 16 CFR 1201 requirements, glass folks “just had to show testing compliance for the impact and/or applicable weathering by supplying a permanent bug on the glass or a certificate and keep a record of their testing in house,” said Julia Schimmelpenningh, global architectural applications manager, Saflex , Solutia, St. Louis. “New rules call for identification and contact information to provide an avenue to verify compliance. This translates to having the contact information -- meaning name, address, telephone number and possibly e-mail -- of the record keeper at the manufacturing site and the test lab, especially if it’s a third-party test lab, so that if someone has a compliance question, they do not have to dig very far to find someone to talk to about it. The new rule also states that this information must be available to CPSC upon request. Some changes are that the month and year of production, at a minimum – along with the compliance testing date -- must be recorded.”
This information can be made available electronically by the manufacturer as well as by the historically acceptable means of paper or permanent bug, Schimmelpenningh said.
To meet the new requirements, manufacturers of safety glazing will now need to design a new system, Schimmelpenningh said. “That can mean an adjustment to the bug that they currently put on the glass, a new certificate with all the required information and possibly some electronic system that allows access to the performance information related to this testing. The downstream professionals will need to pay close attention to delivery of these items with their glass panels to ensure they receive and archive all the proper information.
“As mentioned above, some modification to the frequency or test protocols may be in order as well,” she said.
“The method of test does not change with these new rules, but the number of tests performed will likely increase based on the requirement to show a reasonable test program that is statistically relevant,” Schimmelpenningh said. “This may mean that manufacturers have to set up different test frequencies or test protocols than what they are currently implementing. The term 'reasonable test program' has not been adequately defined by CPSC at this point.”
A lot depends on the definition of that term. In December 2009, CPSC hosted a workshop and illustrated how a reasonable testing program should function, said Kim Mann, general counsel, Glass Association of North America, Topeka, Kan. “My concerns coming out of [that] were that when the CPSC gets around to issuing regulations later this year intended to define or set minimum criteria for ‘reasonable testing programs’ for consumer products subject to CPSC safety standards, (a) they will not be limited to children’s products but will apply to all consumer products, e.g. architectural glazing materials; and (b) they will mandate the use of random-selection techniques for selecting test specimens. In other words, I am concerned the CPSC will not take into account the uniqueness of safety glazing materials.”
At that workshop, the CPSC staffer discussing random sampling as a statistical concept mentioned that for children’s products the CPSC was considering a testing frequency sufficiently high, at a 95 percent to 96 percent rate, so the manufacturer could be assured that its product was compliant. If the CPSC were to apply the same random sampling protocol to the glass and glazing industry, it could be potentially burdensome, Mann said.
“These changes will benefit the industry in two ways,” Schimmelpenningh said. “(1) It will increase the ability to track product from the manufacturer should there be an issue in performance after it leaves the plant; and (2) it will showcase the quality of products made in the United States and highlight the demand for high-quality product coming into the U.S. CPSC, by virtue of not updating 16 CFR 1201 in 32 years, is telling our industry we are doing well in regard to product safety for a consumer. Some in the industry feel the guts of the document need to be updated to make it current with test methods, products and technology -- but the principles are still sound. Hopefully, these new rules provide an avenue for dialog from our industry to the CPSC so that we can get their attention and update not only the labeling and testing frequency, but also the scope and methods of the document in the years to come.”
CPSC had not changed the 16 CFR 1201 requirements since 1977. The new requirements are part of a ruling that has come down from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, in which Congress imposed stricter regulations on children’s products and their manufacturers and importers, and required all manufacturers and importers, as well as private labelers, of all consumer products subject to a CPSC safety standard to issue more detailed, informative certificates of compliance with that standard, Mann said.
“Safety glazing, being part of the CPSC, is affected as well, but likely isn’t necessary,” Schimmelpenningh said. “Albeit, we all have heard and read stories of people being injured by glass that was supposed to be safety glazing and may not have been, the CPSC, like all organizations, has had to set priorities for their resources. Right now, the likes of safety for children’s toys and furniture, as well as home-operated machinery are likely more prevalent on their project lists. There are probably more reported injuries from those types of products than from an accidental human impact to glass in doors and shower enclosures.”
The new certification requirements will be a problem primarily for some safety glass manufacturers and those entities that cut lites of safety glass in shops or in the field from labeled, certified stock sheets for installations of doors or shower/bathtub enclosures, Mann said.
The new regulations may be a problem for some manufacturers – fabricators -- of safety glazing materials for two reasons, Mann said: “(a) the new required information won’t easily fit -- if it fits at all -- on their logos they use as their certificates of compliance; and (b) certain of the new information that the CPSC is now asking for is not clear, such as date of testing and where the product was tested in the scenario where the manufacturer relies upon a combination of third-party testing (i.e. Safety Glazing Certification Council, Sackets Harbor, N.Y.) and in-house testing as the bases for its ‘reasonable testing program.’ These new requirements are designed primarily to deal with problems associated with imported children’s products.”
Third-party testers, such as the SGCC, can provide 90 percent of the new requirements, said John Kent, administrator, SGCC. “The two things that SGCC cannot provide are: (1) the actual manufacturer's declaration or statement ‘we meet the standard,’ and (2) date of manufacture. We cannot know the date."
For some products covered by CPSC, child products, there may be the need for increased oversight, Kent said. "The glass industry has done an excellent job, at least those who participate with SGCC, in publicly demonstrating ongoing compliance with specified test performance criteria. We have published a directory of tested and certified products every six months for over 30 years. As I said, most of what CPSC is looking for, SGCC participants already do. We just need to format the information a little differently."