The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been in the hot seat lately, criticized for its handling of recent children’s and infant product recalls. The latest chapter in the “failure to act” saga features in-home elevators that are putting children at risk. While it appears the agency is trying to regain control of the story by issuing a safety warning in recent days, it may be too little too late.
Consumer advocates have been calling for the CPSC to force a recall of residential elevators for some time, but their voices were magnified in recent weeks after The Washington Post featured stories about victims of elevator entrapments. Now it’s clear that consumer advocates and the victims’ families have enlisted the support of lawmakers. Following a July 18 story from The Washington Post, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, called for an independent investigation into the CPSC’s handling of elevator risks.
While we’re not inside the agency and cannot speak to what is, or is not, happening behind closed doors, one thing is for sure: Consumer confidence in the CPSC is waning. If companies aren’t careful, that frustration will snowball and the CPSC’s safety problems will become your problem. The key for companies sensing they may soon find themselves in the midst of the CPSC’s storm is to look inward:
We hope the CPSC can reach consensus and at least present a unified front in protecting people. The current status quo – an agency believed to be dragging its feet and run by Commissioners who are often at odds with each other – is not good for anyone. But in the meantime, companies need to demonstrate on their own that they are protecting consumers.
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