Legal Review: Safety Commission Recalls Under Review

By Personal Injury Attorney Tim Miley of The Miley Legal Group

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has been under review by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. While issuing recalls involving products of Britax and Fisher-Price, the way in which these recalls played out came under question and, as a result, into the hands of the Senate Review Committee.

What is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission? Formed under the Consumer Product Safety Act, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is a regulatory agency that has the purposes of:

  • Protecting the public against unreasonable risk of injury related to consumer products
  • Assisting consumers in evaluating the safety of products
  • Developing uniform safety standards for products and minimizing conflicts between State and local regulations
  • Promoting research and investigation into the causes of product-related injuries, illnesses and deaths, and the prevention of harm due to consumer products

The Safety Commission administers five acts, which include the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, the Flammable Fabrics Act, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, and the Refrigerator Safety Act. The Commission offers the public a hotline for recall inquiries and also makes product recall information available to the public through its website.

The current review of the Safety Commission’s conduct pertains primarily to its administering of the Consumer Product Safety Act. In its report, the Senate Review Committee expressed concern that the Safety Commission handled recalls to allow companies to benefit from future sales. By offering relief in the form of discount coupons, for example, consumers purchased new products and the companies reaped additional revenue as a result of the recall.

Additionally, the timeliness of recalls by the Safety Commission came into question by the Review Committee. One such instance under review involved the Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘n Play infant sleeper, a product that was related to more than 30 infant deaths. The infant sleeper was not recalled when the number of deaths reported at ten; instead, a warning was issued, and a recall was not released until the reported deaths reached over 30 and at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ urging for an immediate recall.

The recent scrutiny under which the Safety Commission has fallen is a reason for consumers to pause and address what products have been subject to recall and what remedies are available.

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