Presentation Given to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by HPBA
On Tuesday, January 24th, HPBA staff and counsel briefed the four U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) members and their staff on the progress being made on the issue of protective barriers for the glass fronts of gas appliances. To remind, on June 8, 2011, the CPSC published a request for comments on two petitions it received requesting the regulation of glass fronts on gas fireplaces. One petition, citing two thousand serious burns over a ten-year period, requested regulations making barriers mandatory. The other requested the use of an LED-based warning system that the petitioner invented.
CSA, the organization that issues safety standards for gas fireplaces, had convened a Working Group (WG) on March 3, 2011, to consider what further safety measures are warranted to protect people - especially young children - from burns on glass fronts. From March to December of 2011, the WG reviewed the addition of language to the vented heater standards for barriers to protect children (and others) from accidental burns on gas fireplace glass fronts.
HPBA reported to the commissioners that the CSA Working Group on Glass Fronted Fireplaces has created new language for the CSA Z21.50 and CSA Z21.88 standards for barriers (screens) to protect children and other at-risk individuals from accidental burns. The new language - which mandates the inclusion of a certified barrier with every gas fireplace produced to these standards - has been approved by the CSA Technical Advisory Group (TAG). The revised document has been circulated by CSA for its Review and Comment (R&C) period, which ends February 22, 2012.
The HPBA briefing was given separately to each of the four CPSC commissioners, as required by the CPSC. The first and most substantial presentation was made to Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman of the CPSC, and approximately ten CPSC staff and three reporters. The same briefing was given to the other three commissioners and their staff.
In the four 45 minute briefings, HPBA staff first gave a summary of the scope of HPBA, its industries and activities, the evolution of gas hearth products, and an overview of companies in the gas hearth industry. Next, staff detailed the new CSA-ANSI standards revision, describing the existing standards, the establishment of a CSA Working Group and its accelerated effort, the substance of the proposed new standard, the adoption procedures and effective dates, and why HPBA believed that the new standard would be highly effective in preventing new injuries. It should be noted that if things go according to schedule, the manufacture of non-compliant models will be required to cease in December of 2013. The presentation discussed and showed pictures of a Thermesthesiometer (used to measure burn potential) and a UL Articulated Finger Burn Probe; both devices will be used in testing the new barriers.
The final, and potentially most important portion of the briefing, was a description of the planned Glass Safety Education Campaign, which would target both industry (manufacturers, retailers, installers, service technicians, code groups, etc.) and the consumer, using brochure, video, fact sheet, press releases, the HPBA safety website (www.hpba.org/staysafe), social media, and third party groups (safety organizations, pediatric groups, insurance companies, governmental entities such as the CPSC, etc.) about the need for at risk groups (young children, the elderly) to be protected by the use of the certified barrier with a new fireplace, or an aftermarket barrier for an older fireplace.
While it is still too early to determine the outcome, HPBA believes that the CPSC commissioners and staff understand and appreciate the quality and earnestness of HPBA's efforts in this matter.
We expect a decision from the CPSC within the next two weeks on whether it will begin a formal regulatory process on glass fronts, or if the commission will accept the soon-to-be approved new CSA standard and the proposed HPBA education program as a sufficient, and in fact superior, alternative to a regulation.