National School Safety Coalition Press Event - Monday December 13, 2010, National Press Club, Washington, DC

December 13, 2010

Good afternoon everyone. Jim [Guest], thank you so much for the kind introduction and for the support that Consumers Union has provided to CPSC throughout this year. We greatly appreciate it.

 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is proud to stand today with the FTC, PTA, National School Boards Association and Dutchess County to demonstrate our support for Consumers Union and the National School Safety Coalition.

 

This is a strong coalition, made up of agencies and organizations that share a common vision and dedication to the safety and well being of our nation’s children.

 

Last year, I travelled to New York to visit Jim and the employees who test products for Consumers Union. As soon as I heard about the formation of this new coalition, I knew that CPSC needed to be a member.

 

As the former Superintendent of Education in South Carolina, I have a deep appreciation and understanding of the role that school administrators and parent-teacher organizations play in keeping children safe in the classroom and in the home.

 

This coalition aims to empower families by taking advantage of the fact that schools are a respected information source within the community.

 

Now at CPSC, we have vital information, information that could save lives. Through the coalition, the information we develop—like a recall announcement about a defective crib or a safety alert about falling stadium light poles—can reach countless families who may not know about CPSC, but who pay attention to information sent via their child’s school or through the PTA.

 

As the Chairman of CPSC, I believe that an informed consumer is an empowered consumer. So, as much I want every parent and caregiver to know what the initials “CPSC” stand for, what I really want is families to be empowered and protected by the important work we do.

 

At the beginning of this year, I spoke to a gathering of the international product safety community, and I made a prediction. I predicted that 2010 would be the Year of the Consumer.

 

Well, my prediction was correct, and CPSC took a number of steps to ensure that 2010 was a good year for consumers.

 

We continued to ensure that makers of children’s products complied with the stringent lead limits that we have in this country. As a result, in 2010, there were only three recalls of toys due to lead violations. That’s progress.

 

We vowed not to repeat the mistakes of the past and got ahead of the curve on cadmium. In January, I warned Asian regulators and manufacturers that substitution of cadmium for lead would not be tolerated.

 

We secured a commitment from the window covering industry to develop standards in 2011 to eliminate the strangulation hazard posed by exposed cords on blinds and shades. Far too many children have died because of this danger.

 

We worked throughout the year at CPSC to make sure that we are on time and on budget to create a new, searchable public database of product incidents. This consumer database will be launched in March, as part of the SaferProducts.gov website. Consumers will be able to use the database to report product incidents to the government and have open access to the database to search for incidents that other consumers have reported. This is yet another example of how CPSC is creating tools to empower consumers.

 

This year CPSC also passed new, mandatory rules for baby walkers and infant bath seats.

 

Finally, one of the biggest moments of the year is just days away. In keeping with a promise that I made to parents, we are on pace to approve new crib safety rules before the end of the year. Families like the Wittes and the Ciriglianos have suffered unspeakable losses after their babies died in crib incidents. We are working to issue new rules to stop the manufacture and sale of dangerous drop-side cribs. We are also working to ensure that mattress supports and crib hardware are made sturdier. All of these changes are intended to usher in a new generation of safer cribs in 2011.

 

Each of these developments, along with news about product recalls, is being shared with the coalition members and those they serve. This partnership is a victory for the organizations involved in this critical work and is great news for consumers.

 

I want to encourage everyone to join the National School Safety Coalition and become better informed. You can also stay informed by visiting our website at CPSC.gov, checking out our OnSafety blog, or following us on Twitter.

 

It is now my pleasure to introduce Mary Broderick. Mary is the President Elect of the National School Boards Association. The Association, along with Consumers Union and National PTA, helped form the School Safety Alert Program.