WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing that Office Depot Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla., has agreed to pay a $3.4 million civil penalty to settle CPSC staff’s charges that Office Depot knowingly failed to report to CPSC, as required by federal law, defects and an unreasonable risk of serious injury concerning two models of office chairs—the Quantum and the Gibson.
The seatbacks of both models failed, resulting in multiple back and other injuries. Federal law requires parties like Office Depot to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) about a consumer product containing a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or presenting a risk of serious injury.
Office Depot received dozens of reports of seatback failures and related injuries involving both the Quantum chairs and the Gibson chairs. Office Depot never reported the Quantum chair hazard to CPSC, and reported the Gibson chair hazard only after receiving a request from staff. By the time the Quantum chair and the Gibson chair were recalled, Office Depot had received 33 and 153 reports, respectively, of seatback detachment from the chairs, and 14 and 25 reports, respectively, of injuries, some requiring medical attention.
Office Depot sold about 150,000 Quantum chairs nationwide between May 2006 and August 2009, for about $350 each, and about 1.4 million Gibson chairs nationwide between 2003 and 2012, for about $40 each.
In addition to paying the $3.4 million civil penalty, Office Depot has agreed that the company has, and shall maintain, a compliance program designed to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act and a related system of internal controls and procedures. The compliance program must include written standards and policies designed to convey information obtained from sources such as complaints, parts requests, and incident reports to personnel responsible for CPSC compliance. The compliance program also must address:
- confidential employee reporting of compliance concerns to a senior manager;
- effective communication of compliance policies and procedures, including training;
- senior management responsibility for, and general board oversight of, compliance; and
- requirements for record retention.
Office Depot neither admits nor denies CPSC staff’s charges.
The penalty agreement has been accepted provisionally by the Commission.
CPSC Commissioner’s Statements
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product 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 deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
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