The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that U.S. Home and Garden Inc., of San Francisco, Calif. and several additional companies have agreed to pay an $885,000 civil penalty (Final Settlement - PDF) for failing to inform CPSC of serious safety hazards associated with Weed Wizard trimmer attachments. A metal chain link on the weed trimmer head can rapidly and unexpectedly fly off a Weed Wizard, striking the user or a bystander and penetrating skin and bone. A three-year-old girl was killed in Alabama in 1997 by a chain link from a Weed Wizard trimmer.
"Companies that ignore our reporting requirements will be penalized," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "There should be no doubt about a company's need to report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission when a product has the potential to kill or severely injure consumers and children."
Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, manufacturers, distributors and retailers must immediately report to CPSC products that have a defect that could create a substantial risk of injury to the public or that present an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.
Between May 1987 and April 2000, 2.7 million Weed Wizard trimmer heads with metal chains and about 857,000 trimmer replacement chain sets were manufactured and sold. They were manufactured as replacements for string trimmer heads on most gas powered weed trimmers. CPSC alleges that beginning in February 1998, U.S. Home and Garden Inc. (USHG), Weed Wizard Acquisition Corp. (WWAC), and A.A.B.B. Inc. had enough information to reasonably support the conclusion that the Weed Wizard products were defective and could injure or kill consumers, though the companies never contacted CPSC with incident or product-related information.
USHG and WWAC purchased Weed Wizard Inc., also known as A.A.B.B. Inc., in February 1998. CPSC alleges that USHG, WWAC and A.A.B.B. Inc. knew of one death and at least 19 incidents involving consumers struck by metal chain links. The August 1997 death of a 3-year-old Alabama girl, who was killed when a chain link flew off of a Weed Wizard trimmer and lodged in her brain, was among these incidents.
Weed Wizard Acquisition Corp. and CPSC announced a recall on May 3, 2000 of the Weed Wizard trimmer heads with metal chains and trimmer replacement chain sets. Consumers who still have this product should stop using it immediately and contact the firm to obtain free plastic replacement blades and installation instructions. For a free replacement kit, call Weed Wizard toll-free at (888) 810-7536 anytime
About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years.
Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.
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