Understanding CSPIA and How It Will Effect Your Business

CSPIA. It’s a mouth full. And a headache. Many business owners are shutting their doors because of it. So what is the hype and the purpose all about? To begin, let’s first understand what CSPIA is.

CSPIA stands for the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and is intended for business owners, resellers, crafters, and charities. The purpose of this law is to enfore the safety of our children, however many people are arguing that the guidelines are too strict and too off base to really allow for small business owners to meet the laws demands. To make the details of this law even more complicated, they vary according to each specific product. But the one thing that is consistent is that ALL products sold for children are affected by this – whether it is a book, toy, shirt, cup or crib mattress.

Who is Effected

If you make, produce or assemble products that can be used by children, you are affected by this law. Even if you craft hair barrettes in your basement and then donate them to your church’s holiday fair, you are affected by this law.

The law identifies that products intended for children under 12 must obey to the details of this law, including in production and packaging, and that products not specifically intended for children under 12 do not necessarialy need to follow the details of this law. For example, if you produced and marketed a DVD for age 16 and up but a parent decides their 12 year old can view this, you are not held responsible for this. However, if your packaging or marketing suggested that children ages 12 and under are considered in your target market, then you would be responsible for following the laws of the CSPIA.

Necessary Tests

As part of this new law, many tests are required to be completed by third party accredited testing labs. These tests were designed to ensure safety standards that the CSPIA outlines, including if the product contains lead paint or other potentially hazardous materials. Whether or not you need to test a single item or multiple items will depend on the variations in the items you offer. A change in material, colors or packaging may mean you need to have more than one item tested. As a result, many businesses are tightening up their product assortment to keep testing requirements down.

Packaging According to the CSPIA

Generally speaking, the CSPIA recognizes that packaging of a product is not intended for play by children. However, some packaging is meant to be used again and for various purposes, such as a bag or storage item. If your packaging provides a multiple purpose other than packaging that wil be tossed out, then your packaging must be tested for the same potentially hazardous materials that your product will be tested for.

There are many, many, many more details of the CSPIA and more is yet to come according to recent reports in the press. For an overview that will help answer even more of your questions, the United States Government has released this easy to read Q&A guide –

If you have thoughts, comments, news or anything else you’d like to share about this, please include your comments below!


  • Ted Hurlbut
    April 7, 2009

    This clearly places additional concerns and burdens on those small retailers who might be affected, but clearly it’s also something that they must be fully aware of.

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