This has not been a good week. First was the election. I know a lot of you are happy about it but as a conservative, I am dismayed. The day after the election I discovered I have mysterious cornea damage to my right eye. This type of damage is caused by diabetes or the mask worn by people with sleep apnea. Neither situation applies so it is a true mystery. My eyesight has gotten worse over the last year because my right eye refuses to consistently focus. The eye exam shows 20/25 which is pretty good except for the focusing problem. I have been straining my eyes by constantly trying to focus. This has lead to occasional headaches and eye strain that results in shooting pains in my eyes. I can still drive and use a computer but I have to stop and rest my eyes more frequently. I have another eye test in a couple of weeks that will hopefully give some more answers....
The next problem that popped up this week was information about the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008. I knew that new regulations were coming but I expected they would deal strictly with children's products with lead. Instead we got sweeping changes to the Consumer Product Safety Commission giving them a lot more money and a lot more power. The wording of the act is very broad with broad implications. The scariest thing is the Commission can enact any safety regulation they see fit without ANY oversight assigning penalties of millions of dollars and jail time. I blame Pelosi and the rest of the Democrat ilk running our government. I blame Bush (a Rhino, IMO) for signing the darn bill.
Now voting for the bill was voting for children's safety, right? From a political view point that is the perception. The reality is far from it. Every manufacturer, retailer, importer and private labeller will have to follow stringent new guidelines regardless of the products they sell. For most it will be simply filing a Certificate of Conformity. You can read more about this at a well written overview at the Fashion Incubator blog.
For makers of children's products, however, there are new stringent rules. They included lead testing, additional labeling, a ban on pthalates and other safety testing that applies to your specific product. The lead testing applies to any substrate (surface) that a child may come in contact either casually or on a regular basis. This includes lead testing on fabrics, trims, books, toys, furniture, jewelry, eating utensils, etc. You will be required to have proof of testing and keep it on file in addition to the Certificate of Conformity. The government will have the right to inspect your paperwork upon request.
THESE RULES APPLY TO ANY RETAILER, MANUFACTURER, IMPORTER, AND PRIVATE LABELER. THESE RULES APPLY TO MOMMY BOUTIQUES, SELLERS ON ETSY OR EBAY. DON'T IGNORE THIS. THIS APPLIES TO EVERYBODY REGARDLESS OF THE VENUE IN WHICH YOU SELL. MAXIMUM FINES FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY ARE $15,000,000 OR 5 YEARS IN JAIL.
Now I am all for making safe products. I am not against testing. Those are all good things. I am against this new act. I would argue it will not make children any safer than they were before.
The lead testing requirement goes into effect February 2009. I am not sure if I will continue my online store or Etsy store after that date. I am still researching the cost of the lead testing and whether I will be able to comply by that date. I believe my dresses and blankets are safe. The lead testing adds another layer of bureaucracy that I am not sure I want to deal with. The world is not ending. I am not panicking. I am not afraid. Mostly I am angry and frustrated. There is no time for fear. Let your representatives know how this Act will affect you and your business.