Report Focuses on Dangerous Toys Allowed Into U.S. Market

Report Focuses on Dangerous Toys Allowed Into U.S. Market

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 27-Apr-2015

Our product liability attorneys in Orlando examines new report that focuses on dangerous toys being allowed into U.S. market.

Parents, beware: Regulators inspect less than one percent of the toys that are imported into the U.S., meaning that thousands of defective products could be getting into children's hands each year, according to a recent Bloomberg article.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) oversees and develops safety standards for 10,000 products sold nationwide, including children's toys and infant products such as cribs, swings and strollers. However, gaps in existing laws and lax actions on the part of retailers means that dangerous products are still slipping through the cracks, the Bloomberg report states.

Among the worst offenders is the discount chain Dollar Tree, both Bloomberg and a study by the consumer advocacy U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) have found. Violations range from action figures with too much lead in them to unlabeled packages that contain choking hazards.

The CPSC has been investigating reports of deaths and injuries to children stemming from products sold by Dollar Tree since 2009. Data shows Dollar Tree tops the list for violations of safety standards, with 823,000 items seized for violations since late 2012.

Target also ranked high on the list for violations, with 705,000 items seized during the same time period.

With that said, federal inspectors did prevent more than 16 million products that did not comply with regulations from crossing U.S. borders, CPSC data shows.

Loopholes May Make It Easier For Companies to Skirt Rules

Although toys are required by law to be vetted for safety by accredited testing laboratories, the small percentage of inspections means that dangerous toys are still hitting toy shelves.

The most recent PIRG report found that in 2014, Dollar Tree was selling a sheriff's badge set and a Jake and the Neverland Pirates tambourine - both of which were found in testing to be too high in toxic chemical content.

Even when Dollar Tree removed defective products from stores, it still used the same manufacturer for future orders in some cases, according to the CPSC.

Retailers are also able to work around loopholes in regulations that enable products to meet safety criteria despite possible risks of injuries.

Bloomberg reported that a Philadelphia family recently settled a lawsuit against Dollar Tree, Walt Disney Co. and other parties after their daughter asphyxiated on the top of a toy marker bought at the store. Despite the small size of the cap, it is classified as a writing tool and not subject to sizing standards that fall under small parts requirements set by the CPSC.

Additionally, warning labeling is inconsistent among stores. For example, some children's products containing markers at Wal-Mart did come with choking hazard warnings, while others did not - a problem that could confuse consumers and render safety laws ineffective.

The latest data on toy injuries and deaths in the U.S. found that nine children died and 256,700 others were treated in emergency rooms in 2013 stemming from toy-related incidents. The CPSC noted that the report only showed that toys were contributing factors in the accidents, not necessarily the cause of death or injury.

Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe

Although the CPSC has the power to create mandatory safety standards that manufacturers must meet before products go to market, some safety recommendations are voluntary. This leaves the door open for companies to choose whether to comply or not.

As a result, parents must take extra steps to minimize the risk of harm to their children.

The Tampa-based St. Joseph's Children's Advocacy Center offers several helpful suggestions:

  • Check for recalls on toys at gov and sign up for e-mail safety alerts.
  • Read all labels prior to purchase.
  • Put "big kid" toys such as scissors or miniature sets out of reach if you have little ones in the house.
  • Perform your own choking hazard test. If a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, it is a choking hazard. (org further cautions that infant and toddler toys should be at least 1 ¼ inches in diameter and 2 ¼ inches in length to avoid choking.
  • Frequently inspect toys for broken pieces.
  • Make sure straps, links or cords are less than seven inches long.

It is also wise to avoid using old toys or second-hand toys unless you can guarantee that they meet current safety standards and have not been recalled.

Your Rights as a Consumer

As a consumer, you have the right to expect that the products you buy are safe when used as intended. When retailers and manufacturers break that trust by selling dangerous and defective products, and someone is injured as a result, you may also be entitled to seek compensation.

The attorneys at the Maher Law Firm are experienced in defective products and injury claims. Contact us for more information.

Categories: Defective Products
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