The makers of everything from Halloween costumes to model trains are flooding the Consumer Product Safety Commission with requests to exempt their products from new safety regulations enacted in response to massive toy recalls a few years ago.
The commission was giving the job of defining a “children’s product” and enforcing new rules under the legislation, but the commission has postponed voting on a definition at least three times.
Critics of the new rules say they mean extra costs for small, American businesses that were not involved in the major toy recalls. Therefore, many manufacturers are seeking exceptions.
Model train makers, for example, say their typical customer is a grown man, not a child. Moreover, the Halloween Industry Association says “thematic” costumes may not fit the definition because adults like to dress up as superheros, too. The same could be said for sporting goods, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
“The fact that legitimate sporting goods have ‘play value’ or that users have ‘fun’ while using a legitimate sport good is tangential to the well-recognized foundational purposes of these products,” wrote Bill Sells, the group’s vice president.
However, because the point of the law is to protect children, the commission should keep child safety in mind, not the wishes of manufacturers, when it establishes a definition, said Rachel Weintraub, director of product safety at the Consumer Federation of America.
“I think there is some reasonable ambiguity,” Weintraub said. “But I think that the ambiguous universe is quite small.”
The new law is the result of a wave of tainted toys and other imported goods from China in 2007. Roughly 45 million toys and other children’s products were recalled.