Release date: October 6, 2004
Release number: 05-003

Release Details

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Hal Stratton today told the House Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection that CPSC continues to enforce standards, announce recalls, and prevent deaths and injuries from rising.

"CPSC has a special concern about product safety for our most vulnerable populations, including the very young and the very old," Chairman Stratton told the Congressional subcommittee. "Despite increases in the number of toys and other children's products, deaths and injuries have not risen and the marketplace is safer than ever."

Crib safety is an example of CPSC's work to protect children. For more than 30 years, CPSC developed mandatory and voluntary standards covering side height, slat spacing, mattress fit, hazardous cut-outs, and corner posts. As a result, infant crib deaths have declined significantly. In 1973, CPSC estimated that 200 infants died annually from injuries associated with cribs. Recent data show that the number of crib-related deaths has declined to about 20 annually.

Toy safety is another example of CPSC's work. Through mandatory and voluntary standards, toy-related deaths and injuries have been held down. The number of toy-related injuries decreased statistically from 2001 to 2003.

"When CPSC finds a product that violates a safety standard or contains a defect that creates a substantial risk of injury, we conduct a recall," Stratton said. CPSC uses many communication tools to publicize recalls: joint press releases, video news releases, point-of-purchase posters, direct mail, paid ads, Web site notices, and notification to pediatricians and other groups. CPSC recently launched the Neighborhood Safety Network to reach vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations. CPSC also introduced to provide streamlined, one-stop information about all government recalls.

While the number of recalls announced each year has fluctuated, there is no statistically significant trend. In the most recent fiscal year, the number of recalls was up from 279 in 2003 to 356 in 2004. CPSC works with U.S. Customs to help find violative products before they enter the U.S. and prevent them from getting into the market. CPSC also uses other enforcement tools to assure compliance, including Internet surveillance, retail surveillance, sample collections, and use of the Customs data base system to identify incoming shipments of consumer products so samples can be collected. CPSC Chairman Stratton also developed a cooperative relationship with China and other countries to promote product safety, especially for toys imported from China into the U.S.

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