CPSC Notification Requirements, Recalls and Recent Enforcement Actions: Desk Reference for Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or the Commission) is a small federal agency with a big job: protecting consumers from unreasonable risks of injury from more than 15,000 types of products. With an Operating Plan budget for fiscal year 2019 of $126 million and 539 employees — tiny by federal government standards — CPSC uses safety data submitted by companies pursuant to the notification requirements in Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) to help carry out the agency's mandate. Further, following implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), which increased dramatically the maximum penalties for noncompliance, CPSC has been aggressively pursuing multi-million dollar penalties for alleged late reporting and other violations.
Congress created CPSC as an independent commission, which means that it does not report to the President either directly or through any department or agency of the federal government. CPSC can have up to five Commissioners, one of whom serves as Chair, and only three of whom can be from the same political party. CPSC's Chair and Commissioners are appointed by the President for seven-year terms with the advice and consent of the Senate. Ann Marie Buerkle became Acting Chair in February 2017. She has been nominated to fill that position, and for a second term as a Commissioner. The Senate confirmation of Republican Commissioners Dana Baiocco on May 22, 2018, and Peter Feldman on September 25, 2018, has created a 3-2 split between Republicans and Democrats on the Commission.
This desk reference first explains the Section 15 notification requirements, including the broad scope of CPSC's jurisdiction, and then discusses routes to a product safety recall, reporting and recall trends, and penalties and injunctive relief for late reporting.