CPSC Postpones Making Changes to Mandatory ‘Reasonable Testing Programs’ Applicable to Safety Glass
November 10, 2011

By Sahely Mukerji

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has abandoned, at least for the immediate future, its plan to specify and regulate the required content of “reasonable testing programs” of manufacturers of non-children's consumer products, including architectural glass, that are subject to CPSC safety standards, such as 16 CFR 1201, and that must containcertifications of compliance with those standards. 

This will bode well for safety glazing manufacturers, says Kim Mann, general counsel of Glass Association of North America (GANA) in Topeka, Kan.

In May 2010, the CPSC proposed requiring manufacturers of consumer products subject to a CPSC safety standard to include five specified elements in their mandatory reasonable testing programs, Mann says. The five separate required elements of a reasonable testing program’ were: product specification, certification testing, production testing, a remedial action plan, and recordkeeping.

“These elements of the proposed rule would require changes in how most safety glazing manufacturers, whether temperer, laminator, or mirror producer, conduct their reasonable testing programs,” says Julia Schimmelpenningh, global architectural applications manager, for Advanced Interlayers at Solutia Inc. in St. Louis. “However, these changes should be, with one notable exception, manageable, especially for those participating in third-party testing programs, such as Safety Glazing Certification Council’s, although the changes will add paperwork and cost to the entire process.”

When they would go into effect, the new “reasonable testing program” rules would apply only to safety glazing materials installed in hazardous locations still falling within the jurisdiction of the CPSC, namely, in doors and shower/tub enclosures, Schimmelpenningh says.

In response to CPSC’s proposal, GANA submitted written comments, focusing on persuading CPSC to make one critical change in its proposal: “Under the proposed CPSC rule, if a safety glazing manufacturer were to encounter a test failure in the course of conducting its in-plant quality control or assurance testing, that manufacturer would have to take whatever steps were needed to correct the manufacturing process, probably making adjustments in the furnace or oven, and then subject test specimens to impact testing, using the CPSC 16 CFR 1201 lead-filled shot-bag impactor, and obtain passing results before it would be permitted to resume production,” Schimmelpenningh says. “GANA sought to convince CPSC to permit the glass fabricator to use an alternative impact test, either the center-punch or drop-ball test, in lieu of the full-blown 16 CFR 1201 test, after incurring an in-plant test failure.”

On November 8, CPSC published a Federal Register notice addressing its proposed changes to the testing, certification, and labeling requirements for consumer products, Mann says. “It announced elaborate new rules governing children’s products; however, with respect to non-children’s products such as architectural glass, it decided to postpone making any changes at this time, claiming it needed more time to study the issues.”

The CPSC’s rationale, quoted below, for “deferring action” on adopting any changes in reasonable-testing programs for non-children’s products is “startlingly and refreshingly honest and testimony to the value of industry-submitted comments in shaping federal agency rulemaking,” Mann says.

According to CPSC’s Federal Register notice: “We received many comments on proposed subpart B [testing of non-children’s products]. … The commenters raised many concerns about the cost and burden of the proposal as well as practical issues …. Consequently, we are deferring action with respect to finalizing subpart B. We will reserve subpart B in the final rule and, except as stated otherwise in this preamble, continue evaluating the issues raised in the comments regarding a reasonable testing program.”

“I do not envision any set of circumstances that would prompt CPSC to take up the matter again, at least not in the foreseeable future,” Mann says.

Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
Subscribe to receive the free e-newsletter.