WASHINGTON — The government has again delayed independent safety tests required for many toys, youth all-terrain vehicles and other children’s products as part of a 2008 anti-lead law, a move meant to help small businesses burdened by the law.

Tuesday’s decision by the Consumer Product Safety Commission means businesses that sell products for children 12 and under will have another ten months – until Dec. 31 – before they must undertake sometimes expensive third-party testing to make sure their products have safe levels of lead.

What it means for consumers and the safety of what they see on store shelves isn’t clear, says Rachel Weintraub, director of product safety and senior counsel at the Consumer Federation of America.

“Safety isn’t guaranteed,” said Weintraub. “Manufacturers need to meet the standard, but they don’t need to prove it. The law needs to be fully implemented as written to give consumers assurances that the products are tested to meet the safest standards.”

Currently, most products for children have to meet strict limits for lead and manufacturers need to know their merchandise complies, presumably through testing. But the testing process can vary from company to company.

Tuesday’s delay by the commission gives manufacturers more time before they have to undergo the third-party testing at agency-approved laboratories, which would likely mean a more uniform testing process.

For businesses, especially smaller ones, the delay – called a stay of enforcement – should help blunt the impact and expense involved with the third-party testing.

“Any employer that was anticipating closing doors or reducing workforce shortly after the stay expired, and that is a very realistic issue for many businesses, may now have ten more months of work available for employees – which seems like something to be excited about,” said Michael Warring, president of American Educational Products in Fort Collins, Colo.

Overall, it’s the sixth time the CPSC has approved a delay in enforcing part of the law.

The move by the agency comes after complaints from industry that more than two years after the law passed, CPSC is still mired in the process of writing rules.