The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act and You


This one has been bouncing around for a few years and was stayed a year ago pending review and defining the guidelines better. This article is a couple of years old but still very relevant. On October 19, 2011 this was law finally went into effect and frankly it seems that the garment decorating community (printers – not magazines) have either been ignoring it hoping it would go away or just not up to speed on what it means.

The new law called the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act may be very hard on manufacturers of products designated for children. The law is design to limit the lead exposure to children – and while that is a good thing – this one might drive smaller companies out of business.

The good news is the law and reporting requirements seem to rule out basic cotton T-Shirts (follow the links below), but does not rule out coatings/inks like plastisol, heat transfers and other items that might be applied to T-Shirts. And, if the garment has zippers, buttons or other embelishments then these will fall into the “testing” category.

Keep in mind that I am NOT a lawyer and am just presenting the data. It is really tough to find hard facts about how this will effect garment decorators. But, the key point is the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) made a final ruling on their definition of “children’s products” and it went into effect October 19, 2011.

What is very disturbing is that if you go on almost any industry website and try to find out if their products are in compliance – you can’t find it! If you do have links to industry sites with more information please comment on this article.

It is hard to keep abreast of what all this means and it seems the industry trade association, SGIA, and Magazine like Printwear and Impressions are now running articles about this and are trying to give advice and direction to the industry.

Here is a good article by Impressions Magazine published in March of 2012:
The CPSIA Effect: A Screen Printer’s Perspective

Printwear Magazine is doing a great job of following this with these articles:
CPSIA Breakdown
– February 2012
Play It Safe – CPSIA on Teamwear – February 2012
CPSIA Solutions – April 2012

SGIA – Specialty Graphics Imaging Association is also tracking this. You can read about the law for free even if you are not a member and for $39.95 per quarter you can get access to their webinars and webinar archives. SGIA also has a CPSC FAQ online HERE.

There are a number of excellent non-industry articles and websites – including FAQs right from the CPSC site. You should read all of these and then determine your next move. My guess if you are a screen printer is to talk to your ink company or supplier. Don’t be surprised if you get a blank look. You might also continue to monitor the SGIA website and articles in industry trade magazines.

CPSC Small Business  Ombudsman

Wall Street Journal Article – December 2009

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