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Not Worried About the CPSC? Better Think Again!

I am honored to be a new addition to the talented legal team here at OFW Law. Since joining the firm two weeks ago, I have been amazed at the breadth, depth and diversity of the talent here. Since the firm includes not only exceptional lawyers and policy advisors, but also scientists, doctors and other technical professionals, it brings a special kind of creativity to problem solving that is unmatched in Washington. It is this creativity and “spunk” that convinced me OFW was the right place for me.

This is important because the problems that businesses are facing can no longer be easily slotted into neat cubby holes or defined by one or two substantive law areas. For example, a food manufacturer that limits its regulatory focus to FDA, USDA and the FTC does so at its peril since the agency I used to be a part of-the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)-sees the safety aspects of packaging, including food packaging, as under its jurisdiction. Companies that believe they sell only commercial products, such as construction materials, and therefore only have to worry about the Department of Labor, or those that sell only health care products, such as bed rails, so focus only on FDA, also may be in for a surprise. If a product is sold at Home Depot, Staples or Costco (and what isn’t these days?), it is probably under the jurisdiction of the CPSC as well.

This is important because the agency is pushing its jurisdiction to the limits and it is becoming much more aggressive and unforgiving in pursuing companies that it believes are violating its statutes. The political leadership of the agency has given direction to the enforcement staff to pursue the highest possible penalties available under the statute. Government-mandated corporate compliance programs are now the norm in settlements and also will be showing up regularly as a part of CPSC-negotiated recalls. For companies that have not had this agency on their radar screen, it is now time to get it there.

Since leaving the CPSC, I have been writing and speaking about safety and compliance issues and my blog, Conversations with Consumers, is at www.nancynord.net. I am pleased to join Elliot Belilos, Tish Pahl and the other regulatory specialists at OFW Law who are experts on developments at the CPSC.

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