WASHINGTON - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 4-1 to approve  a final rule interpreting factors to be considered when seeking a civil penalty amount for knowing violations of CPSC laws.

A requirement of section 217 of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, this rule provides the commission's interpretation of the civil penalty factors found in the Consumer Product Safety Act, Federal Hazardous Substances Act and Flammable Fabrics Act.

CPSIA amended the acts to require the commission to now consider:

(1) the nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the violation, including the nature of the product defect or the substance;

(2) the appropriateness of the penalty in relation to the size of the business or of the person charged, including how to mitigate undue adverse economic impacts on small businesses; and

(3) other factors as appropriate.

These factors are in addition to the factors already required to be considered: the severity of the risk of injury; the occurrence or absence of injury; and the number of defective products or the amount of substance distributed. Also under CPSIA, the Commission as of Aug. 14, 2009 has the ability to seek higher penalty amounts.

CPSIA increased the maximum penalty for each violation of the CPSA, FHSA and FFA from $8,000 to $100,000. Maximum penalty amounts for a related series of violations increased from $1.8 million to $15 million.

The final rule goes into effect upon publication in the Federal Register.

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