New Substantial Product Safety Hazards: Seasonal/Decorative Lighting and Extension Cords

Today, the CPSC Small Business Obmudsman issued a newletter in which they defined two new substantial product safety hazards: seasonal/decorative lighting and extension cords.

Seasonal/Decorative Lighting:

“Seasonal and Decorative Lighting Products – The final rule (16 CFR part 1120) specifies that seasonal and decorative lighting products that do not contain any one of three readily observable characteristics (minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief, or overcurrent protection), as addressed in a voluntary standard, are deemed a substantial product hazard under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). The rule will become effective on June 3, 2015, and will apply to products manufactured or imported on or after that date. More information about the regulation can be found on our website here and on www.regulations.gov.”

Extension Cords (proposed):

“In its proposed rule, the Commission determines preliminarily that:

“Minimum wire size; sufficient strain relief; polarization; continuity; outlet covers (for indoor cords); and flexible jacketed insulation (for outdoor cords) are all readily observable characteristics of extension cords;

  • the identified readily observable characteristics are addressed by a voluntary standard, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Standard for Cord Sets and Power-Supply Cords, UL 817, 11th Edition, dated March 16, 2001, revised February 3, 2014 (UL 817);
  • conformance to UL 817 has been effective in reducing the risk of injury from shock and fire associated with indoor and outdoor extension cords; and
  • extension cords sold in the United States substantially comply with UL 817.”

Note that the seasonal/decorative lighting requirement goes into effect NEXT WEEK. If you are importing these products, they must comply with UL 588.

While UL writes these standards, there are multiple NRTLs in the US (or accredited partner labs in Asia) that can perform this testing and ensure compliance. However, nearly all labs will take a minimum of two weeks to perform this testing.

About the Author
Rachel Johnson Greer is a global business strategist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs increase their internet product sales, curate their brand image online and avoid catastrophic legal threats. After getting her MBA in international business at Seattle University, she spent nearly a decade at Amazon working in product development. Since then, Rachel has founded companies that reached both multi-six figure and multi-seven figure growth in under three years.

As a business coach, she supports clients in everything from international product expansion to 4x-ing their sales through online retailers. Rachel is frequently sought out by the media and has appeared on the Today Show, CNBC, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. When she’s not working with clients, she’s scaring friends at parties with stories about the most problematic online products she’s found in their homes. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

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