Volume 45, Issue 3 - March 2010

feature

Labeling Lite
New CPSC Requirements for Safety Glazing Fabricators are in Effect

New rules from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) require that all safety glass fabricators include several new pieces of information on their certifications of compliance with CPSC 16 CFR 1201—the federal safety standard for architectural glazing materials.

According to Kim Mann, the legal counsel for the Glass Association of North America (GANA), this enlarged list of requirements can take the form of an “electronic certificate” or even a hybrid form, whereby certain information is available via a website (such as contact information, manufacturer’s statement of compliance, etc.), while other required information is included on the lite’s label or logo (such as date of manufacture, etc.). John Kent, administrative manager of the Safety Glazing Certification Council (SGCC), notes that testing agencies such as SGCC can provide about 90 percent of this information via its testing records, but the fabricator would still be responsible for providing, for example, the date of manufacture and a certification statement.

The certificate of compliance must now include:

• Manufacture’s name*, mailing address and telephone number;

• City and state where manufactured*;

• Month and year of manufacture;

• Applicable safety standards*;

• Certification of compliance*;

• Identification of the product by a “unique identifier;”

• Custodian of testing records’ name, e-mail address, mailing address and telephone number;

• Date and place where the product was tested; and

• The third-party test laboratory’s name, mailing address and telephone number.

So what does all that mean?

Top 5 Questions About CPSC
One reason that industry professionals are concerned about the “general lack of awareness” about the new rules is that the CPSC doesn’t address many of the common questions that fabricators are asking.

As Kent points out, “The CPSC regulation is written but nobody really knows how they’re going to implement it—or what some of those terms mean,” he says. “What I advise people is that they have to make a due diligence effort to interpret what they’re asking for and establish a justifiable position as to how they feel they’re meeting the intent of the regulation.”

Among those questions are the following:

1. What’s a unique identifier? Far and away the number one question on people’s minds has been what does the CPSC define as a “unique identifier?” Kent offers two possible solutions. First, those companies that do certify with an organization such as SGCC are covered as this voluntary program assigns companies that certify a specific unique certification number, “which is company, plant and product—generally thickness—specific.” That existing number should fit the bill as a unique identifier.

But Kent suggests an alternative: “In the glass industry a unique identifier is generally the type and thickness—tempered ¼-inch or laminated ¼-inch. I think that’s the equivalent of a model number in the glass industry,” he says, “so I think that’s reasonable to say that my model, my unique identifying model number is the thickness — ¼-inch tempered glass.”

2.What exactly is a reasonable testing program? Is testing once a day reasonable? Once a shift? How about once a year or once every ten years? “There is no definition of that,” Kent says.

All he can advise is that “SGCC requires full laboratory testing once every six months, and that’s been an established norm for 35-plus years that SGCC has been around. So I think it’s justifiable [for us] to say that we believe a reasonable testing program is independent testing once every six months.”

For manufacturers that choose to self-certify, Kent says, “We believe each manufacturer has to take a position of what they believe is reasonable and defend what they feel is reasonable.”

3. Do I have to list the exact date of manufacture? “The date of manufacture [requirement] gives people consternation as well,” Kent says. “CSPC does say that the month and year must be listed relative to the date of manufacture.”

There was also some confusion as to how to handle product manufactured prior to February 11 but not yet distributed as of that time. Kent comments that the requirements could feasibly refer to products manufactured after February 11, while Mann suggests that it would have to comply with any products distributed after that date.

And speaking of dates, Kent points out that for companies posting any of their information online, it has to be kept up-to-date and also archived. “What if a crate of glass is made this week and it sits on a warehouse shelf for a year and then it’s sold a year from now? There’s going to have to be some way to create an archive of this test record,” Kent says. “That customs officer is going to look and say wait a minute the date of manufacture was February 2010, they can’t be looking at the test certificate for February 2011.

4. What’s the obligation of companies that don’t actually make the safety glazing but incorporate it into their products? “Let’s say a door manufacturer buys a piece of safety glass and installs it in their door—what does that door company need to do?” Kent asks by way of example. “This is another gray area. In general, CPSC states that the manufacturer must forward the certificate to the distributor or retailer. But what are the obligations of that distributor or retailer? To our knowledge there is no obligation of the distributor or retailer. It’s clearly if you make the product into a safety glazing, you have to provide this certificate.

“But let’s say a door company then puts that glass into a door and then ships it, what is the obligation of that door company? That’s a little unclear. CPSC could interpret that the door company is an extension of the manufacturer by virtue of using the safety glass, in which case the most conservative approach would be for the door company to forward the certificate or, as a minimum, maintain a file of those certificates.”

5. How do I fit all of that information on my existing labels? Kent says, “CPSC seems to imply that they mandate certain information but that information can appear in one of three places: 1) on a paper certificate, 2) on the actual product or 3) on a website or by reference on a website—or a combination of those three locations. If you are mixing and matching those three locations, then there needs to be some common denominator.” In other words, “Whatever you define as your unique identifier needs to be in all three of those locations if, in fact, the CPSC information is being placed in all three locations.”

Some in the industry say these changes are not likely to have a huge impact on the way glass fabricators have already been doing business.

“I believe most people will continue to label as they have in the past,” Kent says.

Making Strides to Comply
Larger fabricators such as Vitro America have found the transition relatively straightforward.

“It was a fairly simple transition because of the laser technology utilized by our fabrication facilities to apply the product labels, and electronic documentation available,” says Alice Dickerson, director of sales and marketing of Vitro America. “This allowed us to easily incorporate the date of manufacture, location and all other information required.”

Dickerson adds, “This change should not directly impact our customers; however, Vitro America customers have been notified of the change, and the fact that we are in compliance.

“I don’t see a big change for most of the fabricators; if they are currently using a third-party certification organization such as SGCC I believe they are already in fairly good shape,” says John Bush of John Bush Consulting Inc. “However, those who choose to continue to self-certify have to seriously ask themselves if they are doing this in a way where they can defend the ‘reasonable testing’ statement. There is too much required information to put it all on the permanent logo on the glass and still have the glass acceptable to owners and architects. Therefore, I see most manufacturers using a hybrid approach with the information being distributed between the permanent logo, the shipping documentation and the fabricators website.”

Bush adds, “As always is the case with new rules and regulations, we will have to wait to see how some of this is interpreted.”

Cost of Non-Compliance
So what happens to fabricators that don’t update their labels ASAP? As far as how the new requirements will be enforced, Kent tells USGlass that the regulation references making the certificate available to the Federal Trade Commission, customs authorities or to CPSC.

“I believe a review during a customs inspection is the most likely avenue for enforcement, although CPSC could certainly police the process as well,” Kent says.

Going forward, Mann explains, CPSC may be too busy with other things to enforce these requirements. Congress has directed CPSC to create new testing regulations for children’s products. Mann says that recent presentations on the subject have led him to believe that CPSC likely “will issue very broad generic protocol that will apply to all consumer products subject to safety standard requirements.” However, GANA has submitted comments to CPSC on this topic, urging the commission to confine any future regulations on testing protocols to children’s products, or, at least, exclude architectural glazing materials from its scope.

Because of the confusion, Mann reported that CPSC has made it clear “that its first priority will not be policing certification and labeling requirements,” but, rather, will try to ensure these consumer products meet the safety requirements in these standards. However, Mann added, “Who knows when CPSC is going to abandon this so-called leniency approach to certification?” And when they do, he cautioned, manufacturers not complying with the new requirements could be subject to an up to $100,000 penalty for each known violation.

Still More Questions?
To view examples of how the Safety Glazing Certification Council
provides the required label information, visit www.sgcc.org/compliance/.

 


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