On March 11, 2011, the new publicly accessible database of consumer product incidents began accepting reports. And around April 1, the first of those reports were through the vetting process and posted online. We thought the one month point after the first reports were posted would be a good time to review the database.
There are as of this morning, 132 reports of children’s product incidents out of the 675 total reports.
First, it appears recalls are ineffective in getting products out of the hands of consumers and avoiding injuries. A quick perusal just of the children’s product reports shows at least a dozen recalled products cropping up, some as many as ten times. It is worrisome that consumers know enough to go to SaferProducts.gov to file an injury report, but in some cases still don’t learn of the product’s recall. Some manufacturers use their comment section to alert the reporter as well as the public to the recall, others remain silent, missing an opportunity to publicize their product’s recall.
The database contains some of what we might expect – reports of rashes from brand name diapers continue, and – a quick foray outside of children’s products – those unstable shoes meant to provide toning are just that – unstable! But we see some
We all know about the strollers recalled after fingertip amputations and lacerations – when folding, they can catch fingers – children’s and adult’s. What the database shows is that the problem extends beyond those already recalled. While not every injury can be prevented, this is a known hazard (finally!) that should be designed out of products.
There were also at least a dozen reports of small parts breaking off toys meant for children under the age of three. Without further investigation and review, it is hard to say if these toys meet current toy standards, but it is worth considering if the testing for breakage and release of small parts is stringent enough.
Manufacturers seem to be taking different tacks in response – some have no response – even if noting the product has been recalled seems to be in order. Others have a set response urging the consumer to follow up with them. A few give details into the steps they have taken to either deal with the incident or check the toy/product for safety.
Parents and caregivers should continue to report incidents with the products they use with their children. The information is invaluable to study individual incidents as well as note patterns and emerging hazards.
CPSC should consider providing a link whenever the product in question has been recalled. This would serve a great purpose in educating other parents who are reviewing the reports as well as the original reporter.
The process seems to be moving smoothly. We have yet to see if reports are leading to recalls or product redesign and it will be some time before the data is useful for analyzing trends.
We’d love to hear if any of you have had experiences yet with the database and your thoughts on this new consumer resource.