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CPSC Seeks Reduction In Decoration-Related Injuries During Holidays

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on December 10, 2013

Citizens absolutely cannot underestimate the potential dangers created by the holidays.  As you rush around trying to decorate your home in the most festive way possible, it’s easy to miss those things that could pose a hazard to your family and guests.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has explored these hazards in depth in a recent news release.  In it, they point out that holiday decorating in November and December of last year alone accounted for 15,000 trips to the emergency room across the country.  That number represents a steady climb from the year prior, a disturbing trend that has been apparent every year now since 2009.

As the Acting Chairman of the CPSC notes, this adds up to around 250 injuries every single day in the lead-up to the New Year.  Falls contributed to over a third of all of those injuries, with lacerations making up 11%.  One out of every ten injuries was the result of somebody straining their back.

Of course, one of the biggest threats at this time of the year is that posed by a fire.  Oftentimes, these may result from a Christmas tree or a candle burning out of control.  Candles have proven particularly deadly, as between 2009 and 2011, they are thought to have contributed to more than $300 million in property damage as well as 680 injuries and 70 fatalities.  Around 200 yearly Christmas tree fires, while not as widespread as candle fires, still led to 20 injuries and ten fatalities in that same timeframe.

In a bid to see a reduction in injurious and fatal incidents, the CPSC is offering some valuable insights into how to make sure your decorating will go as safely as possible.

Yesterday, we revealed some of the ways you can ensure that your fresh Christmas tree doesn’t become a fire hazard, but you also have to be careful with an artificial tree.  Fire-resistant doesn’t necessarily mean fireproof, and thus you should still keep a fake tree a sufficient distance from heat sources.

When you go about decorating the tree, make sure to take extra precautions if you have young children.  They may be tempted to pull down ornaments, especially if they look like candy.  Small ornaments that could be swallowed should be kept in storage, as could any breakable objects that a child might grab at and cut themselves on.

On Christmas morning, when you’re through unwrapping presents, absolutely do not toss them in the fireplace.  As far as candles go, maintain supervision at all times and only place them on stable surfaces far from anything that could realistically catch fire.

Shutdown Leaves Safety Agencies Unable To Conduct Duties

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on October 2, 2013

The government shutdown is already having an impact on the safety of the American public.  Among those agencies that are being partially shuttered as a result of the stalemate in Washington are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Food and Drug Administration.  The repercussions for lack of action by these entities could be felt by consumers for years to come.

A new report from AOL Autos delves into how the shutdown is going to affect the NHTSA.  We report often on this blog about the recalls that get issued in relation to automobiles that suffer a minimal or serious defect.  These recalls are necessary as a means to protect drivers.

Now that the shutdown has occurred, you can expect those recalls to cease.  The NHTSA has said that they will not be notifying the public of recalls related to vehicles, and without the oversight of the agency, it’s unclear whether auto manufacturers will be inclined to issue their own recalls.  The NHTSA will also suspend investigations into potential defects associated with customer complaints, and thus the mechanism that ensures a potential hazard will be thoroughly analyzed is also not in place.

The shutdown is also going to have an impact on those who are in the market for a new automobile.  With the NHTSA closing its doors, the agency also plans to suspend tests on new automobiles, along with the issuance of a rating that goes along with that.  But consumers use these ratings to judge whether a vehicle is safe enough for them.  If the shutdown continues, you could find vehicles hitting the market without a star rating.  You could then buy an automobile only to find that it won’t protect your family the way you thought it would.

Another report delves into the other agencies that are already affected by the shutdown, and it speaks to the other safety hazards that could be presented.  The CPSC is also suspending recalls for the moment.  They’ve stated their intention to only recall items that pose a severe fatality threat.  Unfortunately, this leaves room for interpretation as to what constitutes such a threat, as even seemingly benign hazards could end up injuring an individual.

The food you eat could also be impacted by this shutdown.  FDA research has been halted, as has the monitoring of imported products to ensure that they meet United States safety standards.  Safety inspections designed to turn up potential threats have been stopped as well.

With so many agencies shut down, it’s easy to see how matters of public safety are being severely affected by the shutdown.

Recalled Winter Weather Items Compiled in List Form By CPSC

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on January 10, 2013

Cold weather has descended upon the country, and by this point, just about everyone has hauled their winter seasonal items out and placed their summer ware back into storage until the spring.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission understands this, and they also realize that recalls often don’t catch the public eye because of the time of the year they’re issued.  You yourself may have heard about a recall of a winter item but paid it little attention because it was issued in July.

The good news is that consumers can consult a new CPSC announcement regarding recalled items for the winter that could have gotten glossed over in the summer.  For outdoorsy types, it’s important to pay attention to recalls of Snowpulse Avalanche Airbags and ECHO Bear Cat log splitters.  The former was recalled because an air leak could lead it to fail when it’s needed most, while the latter could have an end cap that suddenly dislodges and impacts anyone in the vicinity.

The other two recalls you may have missed pertain to heaters, and each was recalled because of an overheating risk.  Harbor Breeze Bath Fans with Heater and Light were recalled because a failure of the attached blades could lead to the hazard, while the Portable Ceramic Space Heaters from Big Lots were recalled because the overheating scenario could lead a user to sustain a shock or burn.

Baby Matters Disputes CPSC’s Nap Nanny Hazard Assertions

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on January 3, 2013

Recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission sought to halt the sale of Nap Nanny infant recliners by filing an administrative complaint that would make a recall of such items mandatory.  Baby Matters, the company behind the product, is going head to head with the agency in a bid to get that complaint rescinded.  They argue that the product is safe so long as the user follows the necessary usage procedures.  Baby Matters also takes issue with a statement near the end of a CPSC press release saying that the sale of recalled products is illegal, as it implies that a recall had already been issued.  The CPSC took their action following five deaths allegedly tied to the product, and a few major retailers have already agreed to stop selling the infant recliners.

Click here to learn more about the dispute.

Bed Rails Might Pose a Safety Hazard to Elderly Patients

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on November 26, 2012

Bed rails in nursing homes have reportedly led to 150 fatalities between 2003 and May of this year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Most of these result from older patients, many of whom might suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, apparently becoming confused and getting trapped between the rail and the mattress.  36,000 incidents required a patient to go to an emergency room for treatment in the above mentioned time period.

These types of deaths have caused grave concern among safety advocates and officials with the Food and Drug Administration, who figure that the number of deaths is actually much greater due to bed rails often not being listed as a cause of death.  Yet there are currently not any federal regulations pertaining to bed rails.

Part of the reason has to do with the argument over whether the rails should be classified as a medical device or not.  If they are, then they would fall under the purview of the FDA, but if not, the CPSC would hold sway over the devices.  In 1995, the FDA warned hospitals and care facilities of certain dangers associated with the bed rails, but a lack of support in Congress and among manufacturers led to no rules being developed.  Voluntary guidelines came out in 2006.

If you or an elderly loved one are in a care facility, make sure to speak with an administrator or case worker about the danger of bed rails.  Doing so can prevent a potential calamity.

Change CO and Fire Alarm Batteries When Rolling Back Clocks

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on November 2, 2012

Many people across the country are excited about the prospect of getting an extra hour of sleep this weekend when Daylight Saving Time comes to a close early on Sunday.  But perhaps you could be using that extra hour to do something that could end up protecting your family:  changing the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is attempting to get consumers to do exactly that, and they have numerous data to back up their emphasis on the importance of these devices.  For one thing, homes that did not have a smoke alarm comprised a full two thirds of the 2,300 fatalities that took place every year because of a residential fire between 2008 and 2010, with fires costing a total of $7 billion in damage and 12,500  people incurring an injury every year as well.  Unintentional carbon monoxide fatalities added up to a total of 183 deaths each year in the time between 2006 and 2008.

Don’t put yourself and your family at risk.  Swap out the batteries this weekend, and use the extra time to also test fire alarms throughout your home.  For carbon monoxide detectors, make sure you have enough alarms on hand to cover every level of your home.  Have a professional come by every year to verify that appliances like furnaces don’t pose an additional carbon monoxide threat, and do whatever else you can to protect yourself until Daylight Saving Time begins again.

Lawsuit Against CPSC Could Have Far-Reaching Implications

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on October 24, 2012

A lawsuit being brought against the Consumer Product Safety Commission could have far-reaching implications for the consumer safety world.

It all started back in October of last year.  A business known only as Company Doe filed a lawsuit against the CPSC in a bid to prevent that latter organization from publishing a report about an alleged harmful incident involving one of the company’s products.  A local government somewhere in the United States provided the information to the CPSC’s database SaferProducts.gov, which lets medical professionals, firefighters, and regular consumers make reports on items they believe have led to dangerous incidents.

Company Doe took issue with the report filed in conjunction with their company’s product, saying that not only was the report without substance, but that both its revenue and its reputation would be hindered by the report becoming public knowledge.

A judge apparently agreed, and ruled in favor of Company Doe.  However, the Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen, and Consumer Reports have partnered to appeal the decision to not make available the company’s name and the case as a whole.  A lawyer for the coalition said that this is a matter of First Amendment freedoms and that members of the general public have the right to know why, of all cases, this one was allowed to not be published by the CPSC.

Stay tuned as court proceedings continue in the United States Court of Appeal.

Four Citizens Honored With CPSC Chairman’s Commendation Awards

By PSB Admin on September 18, 2012

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission awarded their Chairman’s Commendation Awards last week. These awards, which are in their second year, are given to people who advance consumer safety. The four winners were an individual who gave out safe cribs to families in need, the director of university level product safety classes at St. Louis University, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School, and a member of the Consumer Federation of America who worked with Congress on new consumer safety laws.

Click here for more about the award winners.

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CPSC Files Complaint to Stop Sale of Buckyballs and Buckycubes

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on July 27, 2012

Most of the time, when a company is alerted to a defect within one of the products they’ve marketed, said firm simply complies with recall directives as set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The CPSC has only filed one administrative complaint against a company in the past 11 years.

That track record changed a couple days ago, however, when the CPSC voted 3 to 1 to sue Maxfield & Oberton Holdings LLC, a company based out of New York City.  Recently, the CPSC and the company met to discuss steps that could be taken to implement a successful recall plan in regards to Buckycubes and Buckyballs.  Those talks did not lead to the two sides reaching an agreement.

It all began in 2009, when the CPSC began fielding complaints relating to the ingestion of rare earth magnets.  These magnets, in addition to being contained within Buckycube and Buckyball toy sets, are often used by teenagers to make it look like they’ve had their tongue pierced when they really haven’t.  Unfortunately, this has led to accidental ingestion of the magnets.  Young children have also swallowed the items.  There exists a serious danger that if two or more magnets are swallowed, they can attract to each other, regardless of whether stomach lining or intestines are in the way.  This could cause serious health issues.

A dozen complaints arose in conjunction with Buckyballs, which contain 216 magnets.  Two years ago, the company issued a cooperative recall in order to change a label from reading “Ages 13+” to one saying the items should only be sold to persons older than 14.  Federal law prohibited the magnets from being sold to anyone younger than that.

After that cooperative recall was launched, reports of surgery involving magnets from the Buckyball sets continued to reach the CPSC.  In November of last year, Maxfield & Oberton and the CPSC attempted to raise awareness of the fact that the magnet sets should only be used by adults, but incident reports continued to flood in.

Because of all this, and because reports of toddlers finding the magnets continued to be filed, the CPSC seeks an immediate recall of the aforementioned products.  They want Maxfield & Oberton to warn the public of the defect, stop selling the items, and give refunds to anyone who has purchased the products.

The CPSC has reached out to various retailers to get them to cease selling not only these products, but other products contain similar magnets.  Many retailers have agreed.  The online platform eBay has also agreed to bar sellers from listing the hazardous magnet products as being for sale on their website.

There is as of yet no word from Maxfield & Oberton as to their response to the CPSC’s administrative complaint.  If you have one of these products, it’s best to be safe and cease use until the problem can be sorted out.

CPSC Blocks Entry of 360,000 Imported Products in Second Quarter 2012

By Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer on July 25, 2012

In 2012′s second quarter, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has prevented more than 360,000 units of hazardous imports from entering the United States and being dispersed to consumers. These units included children’s toys that contained dangerous amounts of lead and other chemicals. Other items included sleepwear that did not pass safety standards and articles that pose choking hazards to children under three years of age.

To learn more about the CPSC’s efforts, click here.

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