May’s 30 recalls—more than any month thus far in 2017—cover furniture, toys, appliances, lithium batteries, recreational vehicles, kitchen gadgets and more. Conspicuously absent so far from the list are fidget spinners, the now viral children’s toy making headlines recently for choking-related dangers. Retailers catching up to the hot demand should keep an eye on those warnings to see if they convert into recall activity in case the gadget is deemed worthy of a market exit that rivals the pace of its entry. In light of the CPSC’s willingness to impose penalties on retailers who sell recalled items, retailers should take stock of their recall plans of action.
Fatalities were a more somber theme for recalls in May. A manufacturer recalled electric stoves after a professional plumber died from electrocution after coming in contact with an energized range. This followed news of a settlement in which a different gas range manufacturer agreed to pay a multimillion dollar civil penalty last month for knowing, but not immediately notifying the CPSC, about incident reports where the gas ranges turned on spontaneously.
In March, the CPSC launched a formal investigation into a tragic house fire reportedly caused by a hoverboard resulting in the death of two young girls. Although it is uncommon for the CPSC itself to directly issue warnings—instead relying on manufacturers to do so voluntarily—the CPSC identified the hoverboard involved and is now warning the public to stop using the brand altogether.
But May was not entirely grim—fatalities involving children and swimming pools are decreasing. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages one through four and the second leading cause among children ages five through 14. To combat this problem, the CPSC launched a Pool Safety public education campaign in 2010. A recent study showed that deaths in the first group have decreased 17 percent since then. In a world in which recalls can seem to be “background noise” or ill-suited to combat risk associated with known dangers of popular products, the CPSC’s public education campaign illustrates another approach the CPSC can take to escalate focus on serious risks to consumers.
Total Recalls: 30
Hazards: Fire/Burn/Shock (15); Fall (6); Injury (3); Crash (2); Choke (2); Laceration (1); Lead Paint (1)
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