CPSC: Can It Really Protect The Public From Dangerous Products?

When you buy something, you seldom think about its safety. However, thousands of manufactured items are recalled and taken off the market each year by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), a federal agency whose mission is to protect consumers from dangerous products.

The CPSC maintains a website that lists every item that is recalled by the agency. A quick scan through the listing of recent recalls is sobering. For example, in just a few days, the agency recalled:

  • Hanging chairs because of fall hazard
  • Led lamps recalled because of burning hazard
  • Portable speakers recalled due to fire hazard
  • Oil fired water heaters recalled due to fire and burn hazards
  • Transceivers recalled because its emergency capability did not function

These recalls were issued between June 2 and June of 2015. Each year, the CPSC recalls thousands of items. However, just because a recall is issued does not mean that the item is totally removed from the marketplace. For example, in 2013, only 14% of all recalled children's products were destroyed or fixed, according to the CPSC. That means they were still in people's homes and for sale, often online.

In addition to recalling dangerous items, the CPSC is charged with keeping track of injuries and deaths caused by dangerous products. It also calculates the cost of the injuries and deaths resulting from the defective products as well as the as well as the number of hospital admissions caused by these items. In its 2012 annual report, the latest available, the agency reported that in the 2008-2009 fiscal year more than 4,000 deaths were associated with defective products. In the same report, the agency reported that more than 38,000,000 injuries treated in hospitals, emergency rooms, doctors' offices and other facilities.

These numbers show how difficult it is to protect the public from defective products. The CPSC faces numerous challenges, including limited resources and negligent companies that continue to sell dangerous products. This is why the threat of a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or others involved can play an important role in ensuring that businesses do not compromise public safety by selling dangerous and defective products.

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