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How the Consumer Product Safety Commission Keeps Us Safe
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent federal regulatory agency whose mission is to keep American consumers safe. The agency issues standards for products and safety recalls for products demonstrated to create risks to users and consumers.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent federal regulatory agency formed in 1972. Its mission is to protect the public against unreasonable risks of injury or death from consumer products. The agency accomplishes this mission through education, safety standards activities, regulation and enforcement. It issues standards for products and safety recalls for products demonstrated to create risks to users and consumers. The website of the CPSC provides a wealth of information to consumers about what to look for in products as well as listings of products being recalled for safety reasons. If you believe that you or a loved one may have been injured by a defective or dangerous product, you may wish to speak with a personal injury attorney about your legal options.

Product recalls

November 2012 recalls of products deemed dangerous include:

  • Office chairs with defective seat plates that can cause users to fall from the chairs
  • Scuba diving hoses that can rupture, resulting in drowning
  • Gas grills that create fire and burn hazards because of defects in the hose connection to the gas tank
  • Portable generators that can leak fuel from the carburetor and catch fire
  • Home theater speaker systems that can ignite when used in outlets rated at 220 volts or more
  • Halloween mini projection lights that can overheat and melt, causing a burn risk for consumers
  • Lawn mowers that leak fuel, resulting in fire risk

Each month, the CPSC announces between two and three dozen recalls for consumer products that range from baby equipment to lawn and garden tools. In October 2012, the agency’s recall announcements included baby equipment such as high chairs , infant swings and bassinets; washing machines and other appliances; toys; furniture; bicycles; hunting equipment, including weapons; children’s clothing; and fitness equipment. 

Publications

In addition to issuing recalls, the CPSC provides information about staying safe. Recently, the agency issued reminders about Halloween safety, including information on what to look for when buying costumes and decorations. It also promotes smoke alarm use, issues pamphlets on escape plans in the event of fire and warns of hazards after natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. The agency issues reports and statistical information about consumer safety. Recent topics include:

  • Amusement park dangers
  • Risks of portable generators
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Childproofing the house
  • Dangers of chemically treated wood
  • Drowning prevention
  • Gasoline containers
  • Lead paint
  • Playground safety
  • Playpens
  • Poisoning
  • Swimming pool safety
  • Vinyl lunch boxes

Enforcement

In addition to its recall and education efforts, the CPSC has an enforcement arm that levies penalties against companies that fail to recall dangerous or defective products or that otherwise endanger the public. Recent penalties announced involved:

  • Baby boats
  • Lithium batteries
  • Blenders
  • Children’s clothing
  • Toys
  • Skis
  • Fitness balls

The penalties ranged from $215,000 to $1.5 million for violations of the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Flammable Fabrics Act, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Poison Prevention Packaging Act.

The CPSC is a relatively small agency, with fewer than 600 employees. However, it has an enormous mission – keeping American consumers safe.

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