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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Stop Playing Around With Child Safety

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency created to protect consumers from unreasonable risks of injuries or death associated with consumer products, recently updated their requirements, including mandating third-party testing. The CPSC requirements over the last thirty years have significantly contributed to the decline in serious injuries and deaths caused by consumer products. Now the Republicans are saying that these recent regulations are creating a burden on small businesses, stifling job creation, and for some the burdens of compliance are causing some to go out of business.

“It has been shocking to me the number of businesses that we have entirely caused to go out of business, the number of businesses that have left children’s product arena completely because of this bill, the number of choices that parents no longer have," said House Republican Anne Northup. According to Northup, businesses have told the CPSC that testing requirements "stifle innovation and product variety by erecting significant cost barriers to adding to toys new accessories, new colors, or other variations." CPSC defended the mandates saying that they are necessary to ensure protect consumers, especially children.

In March, the CPSC will unveil a searchable database allowing consumers to check the safety of products they own or plan to purchase. They can also submit claims about products. According to CPSC Chairman, Inez Tennebaum, “This database will empower consumers with information allowing them to quickly determine whether products they already own or are considering purchasing are associated with safety hazards or recalls.” Opponents claim that this will have a negative impact on job growth in an already struggling economy. They believe it will significantly harm businesses without ensuring more safety. Is this another case of profits before safety? Shouldn’t all businesses want to protect the consumers and avoid risks of lawsuits due to an avoidable negligent act are the part of the business?

Small toy shop owners say their businesses are being threatened by these legislations and that they are the victims of large toymakers using lead in products. Is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 flawed or does it make toys safer? Is third-party testing an extra layer of protection that is needed? Shouldn’t all parents be assured that their children’s toys are safe, regardless of who made or sold them? From a product safety standpoint, it doesn’t make a difference whether the toy comes from a local store or a national chain; a parent has the right to expect a safe product.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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    Of course parents should be able to buy safe toys for their children, but as the CPSIA is written, it puts unnecessary burdens on small business owners. For example, it says that products cannot be advertised as being compliant. This means that trying to buy supplies for children’s products is very difficult, as there is no way to determine what is and is not compliant (and therefore safe for children) without contacting the manufacturer.

    I own a small craft business making beaded tassels, and I just recently started making scaled down children’s tassels without beads, because I don’t have the money or the time to contact bead suppliers for the testing data or have the beads tested myself. I would love to offer beaded tassels for children, but I have a very small budget and no employees. I wish I could go into a bead store, pick up the packages marked CPSIA compliant and use those, knowing that they have been independently tested by the manufacturer and that I just need to keep the packaging, not the reports I am currently required to have on hand.

    I don’t think that would dilute the law at all, but it would make it much easier for small business owners to comply while offering children’s products.