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Greg Webb
Greg Webb
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Consumer Advocacy Group Asks For A More Efficient CPSC

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Public Citizen, a District-based advocacy group, criticized the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for sometimes taking more than six months to inform the public about dangerous products. The advocacy group also complained that it took some companies almost three years to report hazards to the commission. Forty-six cases, from 2002-2007, were taken into consideration in Public Citizen’s report, one of which described an all-terrain vehicle that had a faulty oil line causing forty-two fires and eighteen injuries after the dangers were reported to the CPSC from the vehicle’s manufacturer. A CPSC spokesperson claims the agency works to notify the consumers as soon as possible when a hazard and remedy for the hazard are found.

A business trade group, the National Association of Manufacturers, has criticized the report from Public Citizen. They claim the report is only taken from cases of public record where the CPSC fined companies for not reporting product defects in a timely manner. These cases account for only two percent of the more than two thousand cases heard by the CPSC in the time period at question. The CPSC has four hundred and fifty recall cases each year. Sixty percent of these recall cases are called “fast-track” recalls, where the company reports the problem and agrees to a recall immediately. Ninety percent of these “fast-track” recalls are carried out within twenty days according to the CPSC’s 2007 performance and accountability report. This fast turn around, many feel, could lead to a lawsuit because the CPSC skips the preliminary evaluation of the product.

Consumer groups are therefore lobbying the Senate for a proposal to make it easier for the agency to release recall information to the public and to prevent the manufacturers from being able to sue the CPSC over disclosures. Manufacturers, on the other hand, are putting their support behind a bill that has passed in the House. This bill retains the companies’ right to sue but permits the CPSC to notify the public quickly if they find the reasons are urgent.