[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 200 (Thursday, October 16, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 62081-62090]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-24378]


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CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION

16 CFR Part 1120

[CPSC Docket No. CPSC-2014-0024]


Substantial Product Hazard List: Seasonal and Decorative Lighting 
Products

AGENCY: Consumer Product Safety Commission.

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or Commission) is 
proposing a rule to specify that seasonal and decorative lighting 
products that do not contain one or more of three readily observable 
characteristics (minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief, or 
overcurrent protection) constitute a substantial product hazard under 
the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA).

DATES: Written comments must be received by December 30, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CPSC-2014-
0024, by any of the following methods:

Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.

[[Page 62082]]

    The Commission is no longer accepting comments submitted by 
electronic mail (email), except through www.regulations.gov.

Written Submissions

    Submit written submissions in the following way:
    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for paper, disk, or CD-ROM 
submissions), preferably in five copies, to: Office of the Secretary, 
Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 820, 4330 East West Highway, 
Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone (301) 504-7923.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and docket number for this rulemaking. All comments received may be 
posted without change, including any personal identifiers, contact 
information, or other personal information provided, to: http://www.regulations.gov. Do not submit confidential business information, 
trade secret information, or other sensitive or protected information 
electronically. Such information should be submitted in writing.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to: http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Arthur Lee, Office of Hazard 
Identification and Reduction, Consumer Product Safety Commission, 
National Product Testing and Evaluation Center, 5 Research Place, 
Rockville, MD 20850; telephone: 301-987-2008; alee@cpsc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    The Commission proposes to issue a rule under section 15(j) of the 
CPSA, 15 U.S.C. 2064(j), that would amend the substantial product 
hazard list in 16 CFR part 1120 (part 1120). The substantial product 
hazard list in part 1120 would be amended to add three readily 
observable characteristics of seasonal and decorative lighting 
products: (1) Minimum wire size; (2) sufficient strain relief; and (3) 
overcurrent protection. If the amendment to part 1120 is finalized, 
seasonal and decorative lighting products that do not contain one or 
more of these characteristics would be deemed to create a substantial 
product hazard under section 15(a)(2) of the CPSA because such products 
pose a risk of electrical shock or fire. These three electrical safety 
characteristics for seasonal and decorative lighting products have been 
addressed in a voluntary standard, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), 
Standard for Safety for Seasonal and Holiday Decorative Products, UL 
588, 18th Edition, approved on August 21, 2000 (UL 588).
    As detailed in this notice, the Commission determines preliminarily 
that:
     Minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief, and 
overcurrent protection are all readily observable characteristics of 
seasonal and decorative lighting products;
     these three readily observable characteristics are 
addressed by a voluntary standard, UL 588;
     conformance to UL 588 has been effective in reducing the 
risk of injury from shock and fire associated with these readily 
observable characteristics; and
     seasonal and decorative lighting products sold in the 
United States substantially comply with UL 588.

A. Background and Statutory Authority

    Section 223 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 
(CPSIA), amended section 15 of the CPSA, 15 U.S.C. 2064, to add a new 
subsection (j). Section 15(j) of the CPSA provides the Commission with 
the authority to specify, by rule, for any consumer product or class of 
consumer products, characteristics whose existence or absence are 
deemed a substantial product hazard under section 15(a)(2) of the CPSA. 
Section 15(a)(2) of the CPSA defines a ``substantial product hazard,'' 
in relevant part, as a product defect which (because of the pattern of 
defect, the number of defective products distributed in commerce, the 
severity of the risk, or otherwise) creates a substantial risk of 
injury to the public. For the Commission to issue a rule under section 
15(j) of the CPSA, the characteristics involved must be ``readily 
observable'' and have been addressed by a voluntary standard. Moreover, 
the voluntary standard must be effective in reducing the risk of injury 
associated with the consumer products, and there must be substantial 
compliance with the voluntary standard.
    The Commission has issued two previous rules under section 15(j) of 
the CPSA involving drawstrings on children's upper outerwear (76 FR 
42502, July 19, 2011) (drawstring rule) and integral immersion 
protection on handheld hair dryers (76 FR 37636, June 28, 2011) (hair 
dryer rule). The Commission did not define a ``readily observable'' 
characteristic in either rule. In the proposed drawstring rule (75 FR 
27497, 27499, May 17, 2010), the Commission found that the requirements 
detailed in the relevant voluntary standard could be evaluated with 
``simple manipulations of the garment, simple measurements of portions 
of the garments, and unimpeded visual observation.'' The Commission 
stated: ``more complicated or difficult actions to determine the 
presence or absence of defined product characteristics also may be 
consistent with `readily observable.' '' Finally, the Commission stated 
its intent to evaluate ``readily observable'' characteristics on a 
case-by-case basis. 75 FR at 27499.

B. Seasonal and Decorative Lighting Products

1. Product Description
    The proposed rule uses the phrase ``seasonal and decorative 
lighting products'' to identify the lighting products that are within 
the scope of the rule. The Commission proposes to define ``seasonal and 
decorative lighting products,'' consistent with the description of 
products subject to the applicable voluntary standard, as set forth in 
section 1 of UL 588, as portable, plug-connected, temporary-use 
lighting products and accessories that have a nominal 120 volt input 
voltage rating. Lighting products within the scope of the rule are 
factory-assembled with push-in, midget- or miniature-screw base 
lampholders connected in series or with candelabra- or intermediate-
screw base lampholders connected in parallel, directly across the 120 
volt input. Such lighting products include lighted decorative outfits, 
such as stars, wreathes, candles without shades, light sculptures, 
blow-molded (plastic) figures, and animated figures. Lighting products 
outside the scope of the rule include: Battery-operated products; 
products that operate from a transformer or low-voltage power supply; 
flexible tube lighting strings of lights intended for illumination; and 
portable electric lamps that are used to illuminate seasonal 
decorations.
    This definition of ``seasonal and decorative lighting products'' is 
adapted from descriptions of lighting products defined in section 1 of 
UL 588. All in-scope products are covered by UL 588. Lighting products 
within the scope of the rule are typically used seasonally and provide 
only decorative lumination. The products typically are displayed for a 
relatively short period of time and then removed and stored until 
needed again. UL 588 section 2.43 defines the term ``seasonal (holiday) 
product'' as ``[a] product painted in colors to suggest a holiday theme 
or a snow covering, a figure in a holiday costume, or any decoration 
associated with a holiday or particular season of the year.'' UL 588

[[Page 62083]]

defines ``decorative light products'' (decorative outfits) as factory-
assembled, electrically powered units providing a seasonal or holiday 
decorative display having illumination or other decorative effects. A 
decorative product may contain a lighting string as part of the 
decorative illumination. A lighting string provided with decorative 
covers over the lamps is a decorative outfit. If not constructed 
properly, lighting powered by 120 volts can be damaged easily and can 
pose a risk of electrical shock, electrocution, or fire.
    Lighting products that are excluded from the scope of the rule are 
subject to different voluntary standards or do not present the same 
risk of injury. Table 1 provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of 
lighting products that fall within, and outside of, the scope of the 
proposed rule.

 Table 1--Seasonal and Decorative Lighting Products Within the Scope of
                         the Draft Proposed Rule
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In Scope:
   Incandescent or LED light sets, 120 volts, cord-connected,
   either series or parallel wired, with either screw-in or mini-base
   push-in bulbs.
   Pre-lit artificial trees, wreaths, menorahs, lawn figures,
   light sculptures, and other decorative outfits and accessories
   incorporating light sets.
Out of Scope:
   Rope, tube, or tape lights without replaceable bulbs.
   Landscape lights or other permanent lighting devices, either
   assembled or unassembled.
   Battery-operated or transformer-connected light sets.
   Unlighted ornaments that replace a push-in mini-bulb.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Applicable Voluntary Standard
    UL 588-2000 is the current voluntary standard applicable to 
seasonal and decorative lighting products. UL 588 has been updated over 
the years to address various safety issues to make seasonal and 
decorative lighting products safer, see Staff's Briefing Package on 
Seasonal and Decorative Lighting Products, dated October 1, 2014 (Staff 
Briefing Package), Tab B, Abbreviated History of Seasonal and 
Decorative Lighting Products and the Associated UL Standard, at http://www.cpsc.gov/Global/Newsroom/FOIA/CommissionBriefingPackages/2015/ProposedRuletoAmendSubstantialProductHazardListtoIncludeSeasonalandDecorativeLightingProducts.pdf. Specifically, UL 588 made effective on 
January 1, 1997, the current requirements for overcurrent protection 
and minimum wire size, and the current strain relief requirement has 
been in effect since 1994. Table 2 summarizes the relevant sections and 
technical requirements in UL 588 for each of the three readily 
observable characteristics.

            Table 2--Readily Observable Characteristics for Seasonal and Decorative Lighting Products
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                                                        Readily observable characteristics
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Sufficient strain relief  (load
     Seasonal and decorative                                          weight)
        lighting products          Minimum wire size ----------------------------------------     Overcurrent
                                     (AWG)  UL 588        Plugs/load        Lampholders  UL     protection qty.
                                       Section 6       fittings  UL 588    588  Sections  79   UL 588  Section 7
                                                      Sections 15 and 71       and SB16
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Series-connected lighting
 product:
    With Load Fitting...........  20 (Polarized       20 lbs. (smaller    24 lbs............                   1
                                   Plug).              than 18 AWG).      8 lbs.............                   2
                                  22 (Non-Polarized
                                   Plug).
    Without Load Fitting........  22 (Polarized                           8 lbs.............                   1
                                   Plug)                                  8 lbs.............                   2
                                  22 (Non-Polarized
                                   Plug).
Parallel-connected light
 product:
    With or Without Load Fitting  20 (XTW)..........  20 lbs. (20 AWG)..  24 lbs............                   1
                                  18 (all others)...  30 lbs. (18 AWG)..
                                  All Polarized
                                   Plugs.
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3. Electrocution and Fire Hazards
    Consumers can be seriously injured or killed by electrical shocks 
or fires if seasonal and decorative lighting products are not made 
using minimum wire size, sufficient strain reliefs, or overcurrent 
protection. Lighting products that conform to the minimum wire size 
requirement in UL 588 will support the product's electrical load 
without causing overheating. Additionally, lighting products that 
conform to the minimum wire size requirement provide the necessary 
mechanical strength to endure handling and other forces imposed on a 
seasonal lighting product during expected use of the product. Likewise, 
lighting products that conform to the strain relief requirements in UL 
588 will endure use, including pulling and twisting the product, 
without mechanical damage to the electrical connections. Damaged 
electrical connections, such as broken strands of copper conductor 
inside the insulated wiring, could cause overheating (leading to a 
fire), despite overcurrent protection, or separation of wires from 
their terminal connections, which could expose bare energized 
conductors leading to electrical shock. Finally, UL 588's requirements 
for overcurrent protection prevent products from overheating and 
melting due to faults, damage, or excessive loads. Such failures carry 
a potential risk of fire.
4. Risk of Injury
    CPSC has been concerned with the number of fires and injuries 
resulting from seasonal and decorative lighting products for many 
years. From 1980 through 1997, CPSC received reports of 206 deaths and 
808 nonfatal incidents involving seasonal and decorative lighting 
products that resulted in a fire and/or shock hazard. In a June 1995 
report titled, ``Electrical Holiday Lighting,'' CPSC staff cited annual 
averages of 500 fire service-attended fires and 30 deaths involving 
Christmas trees and another 68 fire deaths and shocks specifically 
related to electrical decorations.
    More recently, staff's evaluation of the shock and fire hazard data 
related to

[[Page 62084]]

seasonal and decorative lighting demonstrates that from 1980 through 
2013, CPSC is aware of 132 fatal incidents, 256 deaths, and 1,255 non-
fatal incidents associated with seasonal and decorative lighting 
products. Table 3 summarizes CPSC's injury data from 1980 through 2013, 
based on annual averages related to seasonal and decorative lighting 
products. Note that the average number of incidents and deaths has 
declined over the 33-year period represented in Table 3.

 Table 3--Seasonal and Decorative Lighting Product Annual Average \1\ of Fatal Incidents, Deaths, and Non-Fatal
                                            Incidents From 1980-2013
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                                                                                                   Non-fatal
                         Years                            Fatal incidents         Deaths           incidents
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1980-1986..............................................                6.7               12.6               54.1
1987-1993..............................................                6.3               13.6               40.9
1994-2000..............................................                2.9                5.9               37.4
2001-2007..............................................                2.1                3.6               32.6
2008-2013..............................................                1.0                1.2               16.7
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5. Office of Compliance Efforts, to Date
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    \1\ The numbers are given as annual averages instead of totals 
because there are four 7-year periods and one 6-year period.
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    In numerous instances, CPSC staff has considered the absence of one 
or more of the three readily observable characteristics (minimum wire 
size, sufficient strain relief, and overcurrent protection) to present 
a substantial product hazard and has sought appropriate corrective 
action to prevent injury to the public. Since 1974, CPSC staff has 
conducted 47 voluntary recalls of seasonal and decorative lighting 
products, involving a total of 3.6 million units. See Tab D of Staff's 
Briefing Package, Seasonal and Decorative Lighting Product Recalls and 
Import Stoppages. In addition to product recalls, CPSC staff has 
stopped noncompliant seasonal and decorative lighting products at the 
ports at least 127 times, involving 31 companies and a total of about 
200,000 lighting units. Id. Tables 1 and 2 in Tab D of the Staff's 
Briefing Package provide details on both voluntary recalls and import 
stoppages. Note that where the information is available, most of the 
hazards identified by staff in recalling or stopping seasonal and 
decorative lighting products would be deemed a substantial product 
hazard under the proposed rule.
    Additionally, the Office of Compliance sent a letter dated July 14, 
2014, to manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of 
holiday lights and decorative products, informing them that the Office 
of Compliance considers products that do not conform to UL 588 
regarding minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief, and overcurrent 
protection to be defective and to present a substantial product hazard. 
See Tab A of Staff's Briefing Package, Office of Compliance July 14, 
2014 Letter to Manufacturers, Importers, and Retailers of Holiday 
Lights and Decorative Outfits.

II. Preliminary Determination of Substantial Product Hazard

A. Defined Characteristics Are Readily Observable

    Sections 6, 7, 15, 71, 79, and SB16 of UL 588 set forth the 
requirements for the three readily observable characteristics in the 
proposed rule: Minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief, and 
overcurrent protection. Table 2 in section I.B.2 of this Preamble 
summarizes the technical requirements for the three readily observable 
characteristics in UL 588. Additionally, Tab C of the Staff's Briefing 
Package, Readily Observable Safety Characteristics of Seasonal and 
Decorative Lighting Products, provides more detail on the information 
presented in Table 2. If finalized, the rule would deem the absence of 
any one or more of these characteristics to be a substantial product 
hazard under section 15(a)(2) of the CPSA.
1. Minimum Wire Size
    Section 6 of UL 588 requires that series-connected lighting 
products have a minimum wire size of 20 or 22 AWG, depending on whether 
the lighting product has a load fitting, and whether the plug is 
polarized. Parallel-connected lighting products must have a minimum 
wire size of 18 or 20 AWG, depending on the type of wire used in 
constructing the product. Whether a lighting product is series or 
parallel constructed, contains a load fitting, or has a polarized plug 
are all visually observable characteristics of seasonal and decorative 
lighting products. Pictures 1 and 2 show examples of series-connected 
and parallel-connected lighting products.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP16OC14.001


[[Page 62085]]


    Wire size is observable by a simple measurement of the bare 
conductors. Before measuring the wire size, staff must expose the 
conductors within the wire. One method of measuring the exposed 
conductors is using a circular wire gauge, as shown in picture 3. In 
CPSC staff's experience, those lighting products that do not meet the 
minimum wire size requirement typically fail by using wiring that is 
substantially undersized for the product, for example, more than six 
wire sizes smaller than the minimum required. Moreover, the act of 
exposing and measuring the wire in a seasonal and decorative lighting 
product is quickly and easily done by using a small, handheld device to 
strip the electrical insulation from the wiring. Accordingly, the 
Commission concludes preliminarily that minimum wire size, as required 
in section 6 of UL 588, is a readily observable characteristic of 
seasonal and decorative lighting products that can be observed visually 
by taking a simple measurement of the product's bare wire.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP16OC14.002

2. Sufficient Strain Relief
    Sections 15, 71, 79, and SB16 of UL 588 set forth the requirements 
for sufficient strain relief in seasonal and decorative lighting 
products. Strain relief is observed in several locations: At the plugs 
and load fittings, as well as at the lampholders. Pursuant to UL 588, 
sufficient strain relief is observed by suspending a gradually applied 
straight pull on the wiring by use of a suspended weight for 60 
seconds. During that time, wires with sufficient strain relief will not 
pull loose or stretch from the lampholder, plug, or load fitting being 
tested. Picture 4 demonstrates observation of sufficient strain relief 
on a plug.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP16OC14.003


[[Page 62086]]


    The applicable weight required in UL 588 to be suspended from the 
lighting product depends on its configuration. Section 15 of UL 588 
describes the general requirements that strain relief must be provided 
on the electrical connection used in seasonal and decorative lighting 
products. Sections 71, 79, and SB16 of UL 588 describe the specific 
requirements. Section 71 of UL 588 requires that series-connected plugs 
and load fittings be subjected to a 20-lb. weight. For parallel-
connected lighting products, plugs and load fittings for products with 
wires smaller than 18 AWG must be subjected to a 20-lb. weight, and 
products with wires 18 AWG or larger must be subjected to a 30-lb. 
weight. Similarly, sections 79 and SB16 of UL 588 specify applicable 
weights to observe sufficient strain relief in lampholders. For series-
connected lighting products, if the wires are smaller than 20 AWG, the 
weight applied must be a minimum of 8 lbs., and if the wires are 20 AWG 
or larger, the weight applied must be a minimum of 24 lbs. For 
parallel-connected lampholders, if the wires are 20 AWG or larger, the 
weight applied must be a minimum of 24 lbs. The applicable weights are 
summarized in Table 2 in section I.B.2 of this Preamble.
    The strain relief portion of UL 588 for seasonal and decorative 
lighting products is observable visually by hanging a weight on the 
light string for 60 seconds and observing whether the weight drops or 
stretches the wiring. In CPSC staff's experience, lighting products 
that fail the strain relief requirements in UL 588 do so immediately or 
within a few seconds of suspending the applicable weight. The 
Commission concludes preliminarily that sufficient strain relief, as 
required in sections 15, 71, 79, and SB16 of UL 588, is a readily 
observable characteristic of seasonal and decorative lighting products 
that can be determined by suspending the applicable weight from the 
plug, load fitting, or lampholder, and by observing visually whether 
the wire breaks or stretches.
3. Overcurrent Protection
    Section 7 of UL 588 specifies overcurrent protection for every 
seasonal and decorative lighting product. Lighting products must 
contain at least one fuse if the plug is polarized (parallel-connected 
strings must have a polarized plug) or two fuses if the plug is not 
polarized.
    A seasonal light string with overcurrent protection is readily 
observable by the presence of a fuse holder located in the plug or near 
the plug, and observing the presence of a fuse by opening the fuse 
holder. Picture 5 depicts a light string with a plug containing the 
fuses required by UL 588. The Commission concludes preliminarily that 
overcurrent protection, as required in section 7 of UL 588, is a 
readily observable characteristic of seasonal and decorative lighting 
products that can be determined by a visual observation of whether the 
lighting product has a fuse holder containing the correct number of 
fuses.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP16OC14.004

B. Conformance to UL 588 Has Been Effective in Reducing the Risk of 
Injury

    The Commission finds preliminarily that conformance to sections 6, 
7, 15, 71, 79, and SB16 of UL 588, as summarized in Table 2 in section 
I.B.2 of this Preamble, has been effective in reducing the risk of 
injury from shock and fire associated with below-minimum wire size, 
insufficient strain relief, and lack of overcurrent protection. 
Additionally, CPSC's incident data suggest that conformance to UL 588 
has contributed to a decline in the risk of injury associated with 
seasonal and decorative lighting products. See Tab E of Staff's 
Briefing Package, Seasonal Lighting and Decorative Products: Fire or 
Shock Incidents from 1980 to 2013.
    If incandescent light strings last approximately three seasons of 
use,\2\ then it can be expected that product changes made to conform to 
new requirements in UL 588 would be evident within a period of time 
thereafter. On January 1, 1997, UL 588's requirements for overcurrent 
protection and minimum wire size took effect; and the current strain 
relief requirement has been in effect since 1994. Table 4 lists the 
deaths associated with seasonal and decorative lighting products for 
the periods 1980-1996 and 2000-2013. The years from 1997 to 1999 would 
have been transitional years, where older products in consumer homes 
were being replaced with light strings incorporating the January 1, 
1997 changes (minimum wire size and overcurrent protection) in the UL 
standard. The average number of deaths per year and the average number 
of nonfatal incidents per year were higher before 1997, and the numbers 
dropped after 1999.
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    \2\ Incandescent light strings advertise that the products have 
a usual design life span of approximately 1,500 hours. Using an 
average of 12 hours per day for 40 days per year, incandescent light 
strings last approximately 3 years.

    Table 4--Deaths Associated With Seasonal and Decorative Lighting
                                Products
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Period                      1980-1996       2000-2013
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Deaths..................................          202              43
Nonfatal Incidents......................          762             366
Average Deaths per year.................           11.88            3.07
Average Nonfatal Incidents per year.....           44.82           26.14
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Figure 1 presents a 3-year moving average for deaths due to 
seasonal and decorative lighting products, by year, for the period 
1980-2013 for data from the Potential Injury Database (IPII), National 
Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), and the Death 
Certificate Database (DTHS). Figure 1 shows that the number of deaths 
started to decline as early as 1990, and continued on a downward trend 
to 2013, with the exceptions of yearly fluctuations. This early 
decrease may be due to various factors, such as changes to UL 588, home 
building codes, and fire-prevention strategies. Since 2004, the 
continuation of low death rates is partially attributed to the 
construction and performance requirements in the current UL 588 
standard.

[[Page 62087]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP16OC14.005

    Figure 2 presents a 3-year moving average for nonfatal incidents 
due to seasonal and decorative lighting products, by year, for the 
period 1980-2013 for data from IPII and NEISS. Figure 2 also 
demonstrates an overall downward trend to 2013, with the exceptions of 
yearly fluctuations. The decrease can be attributed to several factors, 
including: Changes to UL 588, home building code, and fire prevention 
strategies. However, the construction and performance requirements in 
the current UL 588 standard for seasonal and decorative lighting 
products with minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief, and 
overcurrent protection have made the products safer than products 
manufactured without these construction and performance requirements.
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    \3\ Incident data is from Potential Injury Database (IPII), 
National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), and the 
Death Certificate Database (DTHS).
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP16OC14.006


[[Page 62088]]



C. Lighting Products Substantially Comply With UL 588

    The CPSA does not define ``substantial compliance'' with a 
voluntary standard. Legislative history of the CPSA regarding a finding 
of ``substantial compliance'' in the context of issuing a consumer 
product safety standard indicates that substantial compliance should be 
measured by considering the number of complying products, rather than 
the number of manufacturers of products that comply with a standard. 
H.R. Rep. No. 208, 97th Cong., 1st Sess. 871 (1981). This same 
legislative history indicates further that substantial compliance may 
be found when an unreasonable risk of injury associated with a product 
will be eliminated or adequately reduced ``in a timely fashion.'' Id. 
The Commission has not articulated a bright line rule for substantial 
compliance. Rather, in the rulemaking context, the Commission has 
stated that the determination of substantial compliance should be made 
on a case-by-case basis.
    The Commission finds preliminarily that compliance with UL 588 is 
``substantial'' as that term is used in section 15(j) of the CPSA. The 
Commission's preliminary finding is based on CPSC staff's review of 
market information and compliance activity, and staff's estimate that a 
majority of seasonal and decorative lighting products, well in excess 
of 90 percent, sold for consumer use in the United States, likely 
conforms to UL 588. See Tab F of Staff's Briefing Package, Conformance 
to UL Voluntary Standard for Seasonal and Decorative Lighting Products.
    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border 
Patrol (CBP) reported that in 2013, the import value of products that 
would be covered by the draft proposed rule was about $500 million, 
comprised of roughly 20,000 ``entries'' or product shipments. If the 
average import value per unit were $5.00 (based on the range of retail 
prices observed by staff), then the number of units imported annually 
may be up to 100 million. CBP also reported that about 550 firms were 
engaged in the importation of seasonal and decorative lighting products 
during 2013. Adjusting to exclude shipping companies and other third 
parties, the total number of firms importing seasonal and decorative 
lighting products into the United States was probably about 500, with 
the largest number of shipments originating from the People's Republic 
of China. An online, wholesale directory identified about 160 
manufacturers and suppliers in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, with about 
120 of these exporting products to the United States. Another online 
product directory identified more than 2,000 individual models of 
products from manufacturers located in China.
    For purposes of this analysis, the Commission considers all 
seasonal and decorative lighting products carrying a listing or 
certification mark from UL, Intertek Company (ETL), or the CSA Group 
(CSA) to be in conformance with the requirements of UL 588. Staff's 
Internet search of online catalogs, demonstrates that all of the 20 to 
30 major national brands, which probably account for a majority of all 
units sold, consist only of conforming products because they are 
labeled as UL, ETL, or CSA compliant. Major retailers also often 
specify conforming products. Although CPSC recalls and import stoppages 
involve a very small percentage of product units in commerce, available 
CPSC data on recalls and import stoppages over the past decade suggest 
a very low (less than 1 percent) incidence of defects and 
nonconformance. The Commission finds that all of these factors indicate 
that conformance with UL requirements is very high, and estimates that 
voluntary conformance with UL 588 is in excess of 90 percent of all 
units.

III. Description of the Proposed Rule

    The proposed rule would create two new paragraphs in part 1120. 
Proposed Sec.  1120.2(d) would define a ``seasonal and decorative 
lighting product'' as portable, plug-connected, temporary-use lighting 
products and accessories that have a nominal 120 volt input voltage 
rating. Lighting products within the scope of the rule are factory-
assembled with push-in, midget- or miniature-screw base lampholders 
connected in series or with candelabra- or intermediate-screw base 
lampholders connected in parallel, directly across the 120 volt input. 
Such lighting products include lighted decorative outfits, such as 
stars, wreathes, candles without shades, light sculptures, blow-molded 
(plastic) figures, and animated figures. Lighting products outside the 
scope of the rule include: Battery-operated products; products that 
operate from a transformer or low-voltage power supply; flexible tube 
lighting strings of lights intended for illumination; and portable 
electric lamps that are used to illuminate seasonal decorations.
    This definition is adapted from descriptions of lighting products 
defined in section 1 of UL 588. Lighting products within the scope of 
the rule are typically used seasonally (temporarily) and provide only 
decorative lumination. The products typically are displayed for a 
relatively short period of time and then removed and stored until 
needed again. Lighting products that are excluded from the scope of the 
rule are subject to different voluntary standards or do not present the 
same risk of injury.
    Proposed Sec.  1120.3(d) would state that seasonal and decorative 
lighting products that do not conform to one or more of the following 
characteristics required in sections 6, 7, 15, 71, 79, and SB16 of UL 
588 (explained in more detail in sections I.B.2 (Table 2) and II.A of 
this Preamble) are deemed substantial product hazards under section 
15(a)(2) of the CPSA:
    (1) Minimum wire size requirements in section 6 of UL 588;
    (2) sufficient strain relief requirements in sections 15, 71, 79, 
and SB16 of UL 588; or
    (3) overcurrent protection requirements in section 7 of UL 588.

IV. Effect of the Proposed 15(j) Rule

    Section 15(j) of the CPSA allows the Commission to issue a rule 
specifying that a consumer product or class of consumer products has 
characteristics whose presence or absence creates a substantial product 
hazard. If a final rule is issued under section 15(j) of the CPSA, such 
a rule would not be a consumer product safety rule, and thus, would not 
create a mandatory standard that triggers testing or certification 
requirements under section 14(a) of the CPSA.
    Although a rule issued under section 15(j) of the CPSA is not a 
consumer product safety rule, placing a consumer product on the 
substantial product hazard list in 16 CFR part 1120 would have certain 
ramifications. A product that is or has a substantial product hazard is 
subject to the reporting requirements of section 15(b) of the CPSA, 15 
U.S.C. 2064(b). A manufacturer, importer, distributor, or retailer that 
fails to report a substantial product hazard to the Commission is 
subject to civil penalties under section 20 of the CPSA, 15 U.S.C. 
2069, and possibly to criminal penalties under section 21 of the CPSA, 
15 U.S.C. 2070.
    A product that is or contains a substantial product hazard is also 
subject to corrective action under sections 15(c) and (d) of the CPSA, 
15 U.S.C. 2064(c) and (d). Thus, if a final rule is issued under 
section 15(j) for seasonal and decorative lighting, the Commission 
could order the manufacturer, importer, distributor, or retailer of 
lighting products that do not contain one or more of the three readily 
observable characteristics to offer to repair or replace the product, 
or to

[[Page 62089]]

refund the purchase price to the consumer.
    A product that is offered for import into the United States and is 
or contains a substantial product hazard shall be refused admission 
into the United States under section 17(a) of the CPSA, 15 U.S.C. 
2066(a). Additionally, CBP has the authority to seize certain products 
offered for import under the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1595a) 
(Tariff Act), and to assess civil penalties that CBP, by law, is 
authorized to impose. Section 1595a(c)(2)(A) of the Tariff Act states 
that CBP may seize merchandise, and such merchandize may be forfeited 
if: ``its importation or entry is subject to any restriction or 
prohibition which is imposed by law relating to health, safety, or 
conservation and the merchandise is not in compliance with the 
applicable rule, regulation, or statute.''

V. Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires that proposed rules 
be reviewed for the potential economic impact on small entities, 
including small businesses. 5 U.S.C. 601-612. Section 603 of the RFA 
requires agencies to prepare and make available for public comment an 
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), describing the impact 
of the proposed rule on small entities and identifying impact-reducing 
alternatives. For the reasons that follow, the Commission concludes 
that the proposed rule will not have a significant impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.
    Based on staff's review of information on importers, of the roughly 
500 companies that import seasonal and decorative lighting products in 
the United States, staff estimates that 400 to 450 would be considered 
small firms under the U.S. Small Business Administration's size 
guidelines. CPSC staff estimates that a very high percentage, probably 
well in excess of 90 percent of products that would be subject to a 
rule, already conform to UL 588. Importers, distributors, and retailers 
that market only UL 588-conforming products would not be affected. 
Staff has observed that small importers, distributors, and retailers of 
nonconforming light sets generally market other related products as 
well. The sales revenue of these small firms is not solely dependent on 
seasonal lighting products. Thus, income for these small firms would 
not be affected significantly, and, except for the nonconforming light 
sets, product lines would not be curtailed significantly. Furthermore, 
the draft proposed rule represents a continuation of the existing 
practice of the CPSC's Office of Compliance and Field Operations to 
designate nonconforming seasonal lighting products as a substantial 
product hazard.

VI. Environmental Considerations

    Generally, the Commission's regulations are considered to have 
little or no potential for affecting the human environment, and 
environmental assessments and impact statements are not usually 
required. See 16 CFR 1021.5(a). The proposed rule to deem seasonal and 
decorative lighting products that do not contain one or more of three 
readily observable characteristics to be a substantial product hazard 
is not expected to have an adverse impact on the environment and is 
considered to fall within the ``categorical exclusion'' for the 
purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act. 16 CFR 1021.5(c).

VII. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The proposed rule does not require any stakeholder to create, 
maintain, or disclose information. Thus, no paperwork burden is 
associated with the proposed rule, and the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520) does not apply.

VIII. Preemption

    The proposed rule under section 15(j) of the CPSA would not 
establish a consumer product safety rule. Accordingly, the preemption 
provisions in section 26(a) of the CPSA, 15 U.S.C. 2075(a), would not 
apply to this rule.

IX. Effective Date

    The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) generally requires that the 
effective date of a rule be at least 30 days after publication of a 
final rule. 5 U.S.C. 553(d). The Commission proposes that any seasonal 
and decorative lighting product that does not conform to sections 6, 7, 
15, 71, 79, and SB16 of UL 588 with regard to minimum wire size, 
sufficient strain relief, and overcurrent protection is deemed a 
substantial product hazard effective 30 days after publication of a 
final rule in the Federal Register. After that date, all seasonal and 
decorative lighting products that are subject to, but do not comply 
with, UL 588 with respect to minimum wire size, sufficient strain 
relief, or overcurrent protection, will be deemed to be a substantial 
product hazard, regardless of the date such products were manufactured 
or imported. The Commission believes that a 30-day effective date is 
appropriate because:
     Seasonal and decorative lighting products are already in 
substantial conformance with UL 588;
     the requirements for the readily observable 
characteristics from UL 588 in the proposed rule (wire size, strain 
relief, and overcurrent protection) have been in effect as a voluntary 
standard since the 1990s, and are well-known;
     the Office of Compliance sent a letter dated July 14, 
2014, to manufacturers, importers, and retailers of holiday lights and 
decorative outfits, informing them that the Office of Compliance 
considers products that do not conform to UL 588, regarding minimum 
wire size, sufficient strain relief, and overcurrent protection, to be 
defective and present a substantial product hazard; and
     importers can substitute conforming products, if 
necessary, before a final rule becomes effective.
    Based on the available information, the Commission concludes that a 
30-day effective date would not likely result in significant impacts on 
industry or disrupt the supply of conforming products.

X. Request for Comments

    The Commission invites interested persons to submit their comments 
to the Commission on any aspect of the proposed rule. Comments should 
be submitted as provided in the instructions in the ADDRESSES section 
at the beginning of this notice.

List of Subjects in 16 CFR Part 1120

    Administrative practice and procedure, Clothing, Consumer 
protection, Household appliances, Lighting, Infants and children, 
Imports, Incorporation by reference.

    For the reasons stated above, and under the authority of 15 U.S.C. 
2064(j), 5 U.S.C. 553, and section 3 of Public Law 110-314, 122 Stat. 
3016 (August 14, 2008), the Consumer Product Safety Commission proposes 
to amend 16 CFR part 1120 as follows:

PART 1120--SUBSTANTIAL PRODUCT HAZARD LIST

0
1. The authority citation for part 1120 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  15 U.S.C. 2064(j).

0
2. In Sec.  1120.2, add paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  1120.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    (d) Seasonal and decorative lighting product means portable, plug-
connected, temporary-use lighting products and accessories that have a 
nominal 120 volt input voltage rating.

[[Page 62090]]

Lighting products within the scope of the rule are factory-assembled 
with push-in, midget- or miniature-screw base lampholders connected in 
series or with candelabra- or intermediate-screw base lampholders 
connected in parallel, directly across the 120 volt input. Such 
lighting products include lighted decorative outfits, such as stars, 
wreathes, candles without shades, light sculptures, blow-molded 
(plastic) figures, and animated figures. Lighting products outside the 
scope of the rule include: Battery-operated products; products that 
operate from a transformer or low-voltage power supply; flexible tube 
lighting strings of lights intended for illumination; and portable 
electric lamps that are used to illuminate seasonal decorations.
0
3. In Sec.  1120.3, add paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  1120.3  Products deemed to be substantial product hazards.

* * * * *
    (c)(1) Seasonal and decorative lighting products that lack one or 
more of the following characteristics in conformance with requirements 
in sections 6, 7, 15, 71, 79, and SB16 of Underwriters Laboratories 
(UL) Standard for Safety for Seasonal and Holiday Decorative Products, 
UL 588, 18th Edition, approved August 21, 2000 (UL 588):
    (i) Minimum wire size requirements in section 6 of UL 588;
    (ii) Sufficient strain relief requirements in sections 15, 71, 79, 
and SB16 of UL 588; or
    (iii) Overcurrent protection requirements in section 7 of UL 588.
    (2) The Director of the Federal Register approves the 
incorporations by reference in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 
CFR part 51. You may obtain a copy from UL, Inc., 333 Pfingsten Road, 
Northbrook, IL 60062. You may inspect a copy at the Office of the 
Secretary, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 820, 4330 East 
West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814, telephone 301-504-7923, or at the 
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on 
the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to: 
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

    Dated: October 8, 2014.
Todd A. Stevenson,
Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission.
[FR Doc. 2014-24378 Filed 10-15-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6355-01-P