CPSC Approves New Safety Rule for Seasonal Lights, Keeps Standards in Place

CPSC Approves New Safety Rule for Seasonal Lights, Keeps Standards in Place
Image: Pixabay
June 17, 2015

A new safety rule for seasonal and decorative lights allows federal regulators to remove hazardous products from the market more effectively, but does not require manufacturers to do additional testing or paperwork.

The rule, which went into effect earlier this month, streamlines the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) ability to stop shipments of decorative lights at U.S. ports of entry and secure recalls if the lights don't meet minimum standards.

Seasonal and decorative lighting products include lighted decorations, such as stars, wreaths, electric candles without shades, light sculptures, blow-molded (plastic) figures and animated figures incorporating lights. Under the new rule, if these products lack any of three readily observable characteristics described in the UL 588 voluntary standard ─ minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief, or overcurrent protection ─ CPSC will deem the products to present a substantial product hazard to consumers.

Seasonal and decorative lighting products have been responsible for hundreds of fire- and shock-related deaths and injuries over the years. Since the mid-1970s the agency has announced almost 50 voluntary recalls of these types of products, affecting about 3.6 million units. CPSC staff has stopped at least 127 shipments of noncompliant seasonal and decorative lighting products at ports.

The average number of incidents and deaths related to the products began to decline after a voluntary standard was put in place. The new rule incorporates elements of the voluntary standard and will streamline CPSC's efforts to prevent the distribution and sale of nonconforming seasonal and decorative lighting products.