"The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or Commission) was established in 1972 by the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) 'to protect the public against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products,' primarily after they have entered the stream of commerce. The CPSC is empowered to meet this objective through a blend of consumer monitoring, research, investigations, safety standard-setting, and enforcement powers. Although the CPSC has the authority to issue mandatory consumer product safety rules under some circumstances, in most instances, the CPSA requires the Commission to defer to 'voluntary consumer product safety standards' that are predominately drafted and developed by private industry. In light of this mandate, the CPSC provides technical assistance and otherwise helps industry groups develop voluntary standards more frequently than it issues mandatory safety standards through rulemakings. Additionally, although the Commission has authority to order companies to engage in various corrective actions, which the CPSC collectively refers to as 'recalls,' it generally may only exercise this authority after it conducts an administrative hearing on the subject. Furthermore, any entity that is adversely affected by such an order can challenge the action in federal court. Consequently, in most circumstances, the Commission generally attempts to negotiate voluntary actions with companies to correct product hazards upon mutually acceptable terms before initiating an involuntary recall order."
CRS Report for Congress, R45174