Why Our Toys Are Unsafe

Ken AshfordCorporate Greed, Health CareLeave a Comment

Because the GOP is all into deregulation, that’s why.  They’ve gutted the consumer protection statutes and bureaus (note: the CPSC under Bush actually doesn’t want to do it’s job) and left it up to the businesses themselves to behave responsibly.

Mother Jones explains what has happened as a result:

What happens when manufacturers are left to police themselves

Zenith projection TVs   In the early morning of October 20, 1998, 13-year-old Stephanie Arzie and her 10-year-old brother Michael were killed when their family’s large-screen Zenith projection TV caught fire. The company had gotten reports of burning projection TVs since 1996; two had caught fire on showroom floors. Companies are required to notify cpsc within 24 hours of learning that a product may have a dangerous defect. But Zenith did not meet with regulators about a recall until October 21, 1998—the day after the Arzie children died.

After the deaths, Zenith agreed to recall the TVs, but in an unusual move the cpsc agreed not to issue a press release, instead letting Zenith send a "safety notice" to dealers. Many sets remained in people’s homes, and by 2003, 45 more had burned. At that point, cpsc finally mentioned the five-year-old recall in a press release, stating that "no injuries have been reported." Asked about the Arzie children, a cpsc spokesman said he couldn’t comment.

Daisy BB guns   In May 1999, 16-year-old Tucker Mahoney’s best friend shot him in the head with a BB gun he thought was empty; he had fired it eight times before, producing only air pops. Tucker’s parents sued the manufacturer, Daisy Co., and learned that the company knew the guns had a design flaw that allowed them to fire even when appearing empty. Fifteen children had been killed by the air guns, and 171 more were seriously injured.

Tucker’s shooting prompted a cpsc investigation. But when the commission declared the guns unsafe and asked the company to recall the 7.5 million it had sold, Daisy refused; the commission then voted 2-1 (two Democrats versus one Republican) to force the recall by suing Daisy. That same day, President Bush nominated Hal Stratton as cpsc chairman, giving the commission a gop majority. Two years later, after a closed-door meeting with company lawyers, the commission settled the suit without issuing a recall. Tucker Mahoney had died of his injuries the month before.

Baby carriers   When manufacturers introduced hard-handled infant carriers in 1993, there were no safety standards of any kind for the product. The industry began work on a voluntary standard in 1997 and completed it in 2000; during that time, tens of millions of carriers were sold, some 7 million of which were ultimately recalled because the handles unlatched and babies fell to the floor. Hundreds of children suffered concussions, fractured skulls, and other serious injuries. And the industry’s standard seems to have done little to fix the problem: Last May, seven years after it took effect, Evenflo recalled hundreds of thousands of its carriers because handles had unlatched and at least 160 babies had been injured.

hasbro easy-Bake Ovens   In 2006, Hasbro overhauled its iconic oven with a new design and heating system. By the following February, the company had to recall nearly 1 million ovens because children had suffered burns after getting their hands caught in them. Rather than taking the ovens back, Hasbro got the cpsc to sign off on an easier fix: It would send a repair kit to any consumer who requested it. The ovens were recalled again this July, after 77 kids had gotten burned; one five-year-old had to have a finger amputated. This time, consumers got to return their ovens—for a voucher, good only for another Hasbro product.

RELATED:  Same deal with drugs.