Following a steady increase in reported deaths caused by faulty children’s products, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is under pressure to act more aggressively in pushing companies to recall products that pose a risk to children and toddlers.
In 2021, the U.S. saw the second-highest number of reported deaths related to children’s products in the past 10 years. And the trend seems to be continuing. Not only have deaths increased this past year, but the number of injuries and incidents are higher too. This month, Kids In Danger (KID) released its annual report, Tracking Trends: Children's Product Recalls in 2021, analyzing the children’s products recalled by the CPSC. In 2021, there were 14 deaths, 136 injuries and 6,058 incidents prior to recall — compared to 2020 in which there were no deaths, nine injuries and 704 incidents. These reported issues not only occurred with children’s products, but with general products such as magnets and vitamins as well.
Our 2022 State of the Nation report found similar trends when looking at the consumer products industry as a whole. Children’s toys, for example, were one of the most actively recalled product categories.
Sunshine in Product Safety Act
“We can and must fix this. The CPSC needs the power to decide when and how to communicate vital health and safety information about potentially dangerous products to consumers, and recalling companies need to work with CPSC to prioritize recall speed and effectiveness,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, said recently after reviewing the statistics. “I look forward to addressing these issues in my subcommittee, ideally in a bipartisan manner, including by passing the Sunshine in Product Safety Act to ensure that the CPSC can swiftly alert the public to potentially dangerous products.”
If Congress passes the act into law, it will empower the CPSC to issue product warnings and mandate recalls without giving manufacturers a voice in how, when, and even where information is disclosed. In fact, the CPSC, among other regulators, is already leveraging social media to broadcast recall notices to increase their reach to parents and other consumers.
Because of rising consumer awareness and the resulting pressure on Congress and the CPSC, manufacturers need to more readily report any issues that may threaten the safety of children. It is also important that manufacturers of children’s toys, clothing, and other products build and maintain clear communication channels with both the CPSC and consumers so they are seen to be cooperative with regulators and foster greater trust among consumer advocates.
Businesses, especially those making and selling children’s products, must prioritize their recall readiness so they can respond quickly and effectively when product failures occur, guard against product-liability litigation, and protect their reputations at a time when scrutiny of their industry is at an all-time high.