CPSC moves to reclassify hand-held hair dryers

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has proposed changes to its rules that would reclassify hand-held hair dryers without integral immersion protection as presenting a “substantial product hazard.”

The CPSC estimates that 23 million hand-held hair dryers are sold annually in the United States, and believes that more than 95% of the units sold comply with the provisions of UL 859 and UL 1727.  These voluntary standards require the inclusion of an immersion protection device in the hair dryer design to prevent the risk of electric shock to consumers when the devices accidentally come in contact with water.

The reclassification proposed by the CPSC could have significant ramifications for manufacturers and importers whose hair dryers are not compliant with the applicable product safety standards.  Under CPSC regulations, products that pose a “substantial product hazard” cannot be legally imported into the United States.  Further, the CPSC can order manufacturers to repair or replace such products, or to refund the purchase price to consumers.  Finally, non-compliant manufacturer and importers face the prospect of both civil and criminal penalties.

The proposed rule reclassifying hand-held hair dryers was published in the May 11th edition of the Federal Register.  Comments regarding the CPSC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) are due to the agency by not later than August 2, 2010.  Read the complete text of the Commission’s NPRM.