Consumer Products

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is a government agency that touches virtually every American. It ensures that nearly 15,000 consumer goods under its jurisdiction do not pose undue risks to their users. Under Chairperson Ann Brown, the CPSC is a model of partnership with industry to achieve goals. Working with industry, the agency has developed over 300 voluntary standards, while promulgating only 50 mandatory, traditional rules -- a six-to-one ratio. This approach yields results faster, and at less cost. For example, in April 1994, the CPSC presented information to manufacturers of children's clothing that drawstrings on jackets, coats, and sweatshirts posed a significant risk and were, in fact, killing children. Working with industry, the CPSC crafted a voluntary agreement to remove the dangerous drawstrings from most of the 20 million children's garments manufactured annually in the United States, without having to issue any new regulations. The problem was addressed in the span of four months -- less time than it would have taken even to draft typical government regulations.

Similarly, the CPSC worked with manufacturers to address the hazard that window blind and drapery cords posed to small children. Since 1981, over 140 children between the ages of eight months and four years had died after being caught on such cords. When she took over the CPSC, Chairperson Brown saw the need to deal with this tragic situation. Working together, the agency and industry devised a program to eliminate the hazard. This was accomplished in six months and, again, without going through the expensive and time-consuming regulatory process. Most importantly, it will save children's lives.

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