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CU supports child safety measures

Consumers Union Supports Common Sense Product Safety Proposals
Four Bills before House Subcommittee Would Enhance Product Safety
Washington, DC—Consumers Union today offered support for four House bills before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection that could help make products safer, including new pool safety measures, child resistant caps on gasoline containers, registration of nursery products to aid in product recall, and increased penalties for failure to report harmful products to the CPSC.
Much of CU’s testimony focused on product safety hazards to children. About 60,000 children under age five are treated in emergency rooms each year for injuries from nursery products, with about 60 fatalities. Pools and home spas present the greatest hazard to children, annually claiming about 260 lives and sending another 2,700 for emergency room visits. Children’s products account for a third or more of all product recalls.
“We believe that if a product proves hazardous and can be made safer for a reasonable cost and the utility of the product can be preserved, we should take the steps to make that product safer. The bills before the House each embody that basic principle,” said Sally Greenberg, Senior Product Safety Counsel for Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine.
Consumers Union supports the following practical measures to increase the safety of products for children:
1) Creating a standard to help prevent drain entrapment, like installing pool drain covers or vacuum release systems. The suction from a pool drain can be powerful enough to hold an adult under water and fatal to children.
2) Registration cards for baby and toddler products. Nearly 60,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to nursery products. CU supports creating a system to notify product owners of hazardous products to help get them out of the home.
3) Child resistant closures on gasoline containers. According to Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates, nearly 1300 children are treated for gas can related injuries each year. CU supports equipping gas containers with the child-resistant caps, similar to those that are used on household cleaners and other substances that can be hazardous or poisonous to children.
4) Increasing maximum civil penalties from $1.85 million to $20 million for failing to report product safety hazards. Currently, the amount the CPSC can fine a company for failing to report a hazardous product is capped by Congress at $1.85 million. For many large companies, the amount is too low to act as a deterrent to non-reporting. For example, Wal-Mart paid $750,000 for failing to report a hazard with a fitness machine—the equivalent of sales rung up in only one minute and 33 seconds. This bill would lift the cap to $20 million.
“Fixing dangerous pool drains, setting up a children’s product registration system, lifting the cap on fines the CPSC may impose, and putting child proof caps on gas containers are all commonsense proposals that Congress should adopt,” Greenberg added.
Click here for a complete copy of the testimony.
Contact: Sally Greenberg, 202-462-6262
Jennifer Fuson, 202-462-6262