More Companies Penalized For Not Reporting Safety Defects

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – When someone is injured or has a safety issue with a product, the manufacturer is supposed to notify The Consumer Product Safety Commission. That however, does not always happen. Just ask Bob Dolan who had a run-in with a weed whacker. “It went slamming into my shin and went right through my jeans,” he said.

158 people were hurt by that now-recalled device. A report by the CPSC says the manufacturer – quote, “knowingly failed to report several safety defects or hazards immediately to the CPSC as required by federal law.” As a result, the company was fined $960,000.

The number of companies penalized for not reporting safety defects is growing. In 2010 the CPSC fined two companies about a half million dollars. But in 2011 that number jumped to 11 companies and four million dollars.

Defective products involved in those cases include a go-cart, high end refrigerators, exercise equipment, office equipment and draw string sweatshirts.

Federal law requires when a company learns a product fails to comply with safety standards or creates an unreasonable risk; it must immediately inform the CPSC. However, corporate attorney Christie Thompson says companies often struggle with deciding what needs to be reported. “If the risk is maybe a little bump, [that] probably wouldn’t trigger an obligation to report. But if the risk is cutting off a body part of a concussion or something, that would likely trigger and obligation to report,” she said.

If you have a product with a safety issue, the CPSC encourages you to let them know. If the company fails to report it, they will, according to CPSC officials, be held responsible.

More from Paula Ebben

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