Monday, February 21, 2011

CPSIA - CPSC Recalls Baby Product for Missing Warning Label

Striking a new low for the Nanny State, the CPSC last week recalled 1.7 million baby monitors/cameras for a missing warning label.

Let me repeat - this recall was over a missing warning label.

There is no sign from the announcement that the warning label was required by law - this is apparently an ex post facto requirement dreamt up by the CPSC.

Anyone ever heard of cost/benefit analysis in the U.S. government???

So what was the hazard? As with many baby product recalls, there were two deaths of infants involved. Two children, one six months old and one 20 months old, strangled on cords attached to baby monitors made by a company called Summer Infant. As Summer Infant notes on its recall notice, there have been seven strangulations since 2004 involving cords on baby monitors placed in or near cribs, but only two involved Summer Infant products. This is NOT a product recall, as they clarify - they are providing new stickers, a new guide and some clips to hold cords. It was a "voluntary" recall, or so the company says.

Let me get this out of the way: I am as regretful as the next person about the tragic death of two toddlers. I do not discount the significance of that loss.

However . . . dangling cords near a crib is a bad idea that most parents recognize. This is not specific to baby monitors, either. Check out the CPSC's illustration of the hazard:

This is the same hazard as ANY electrical device near a crib - a light, a radio, a humidifier, you name it. This is NOT a specific hazard of the baby monitor in question, nor of any specific electrical device. One wonders why the CPSC chose to recall this product or why they called their action a "recall".

It is unfortunately elemental that cords near a crib can maim or kill. This is no different than the hazard presented by the cords on blinds near a crib. It is very sad that such terrible accidents have happened seven times over eight years. That's seven unnecessary tragedies no doubt caused by mistake or simple error. Nonetheless, it is NOT the responsibility of the manufacturer or the State to guarantee good luck or good parenting. Some hazards are for the parents to manage. At a certain point, individual responsibility must be asserted.

As a manufacturer, the fiat of a federal agency issuing a RECALL for a missing warning label is terrifying, especially under these circumstances. Of course, consumers are becoming jaded by endless recalls, too. As the agency loses ALL perspective on which hazards deserve regulatory attention (everything seems to be a hazard these days), and blaring headlines numb everyone to the signficance of recalls in general, it is hard to resist cynicism. The CPSC with all the good intentions in the world . . . is starting to make a mockery of itself.

It's a mania. Somebody help us.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting. With each recall I wonder if it can get any more ridiculous. If a parent can not think through the idea that a cord should not be accessible to a baby then my guess is they aren't going to read a warning label.

Could it really get more ridiculous? Accidents happen that are avoidable. But, does the government mandating a warning label going to avoid this?

Wouldn't it be better to force new parents to give new parents a little safety course before they take their newborn home?

What sort of world do these people live in? Do they understand with each parental mistake blown out of proportion they destroy industries that have done nothing wrong. I haven't had people look at a sling since they came out with their broad sweep warning on sling danger. I wonder how those manufacturers are doing.

Rick Woldenberg, Chairman - Learning Resources Inc. said...

Here's your answer re baby slings:

More to follow.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it... since this product has been recalled, it's now illegal to resell. Pretty soon there won't be any children's items left on the resale market, everything will have been banned, recalled, or without a label to prove it does not contain over 300ppm lead.

Anonymous said...

I slipped on some ice today, I am worried that the CPSC will recall my shoes?
Whadda joke! I am sure the parents have lawsuits pending against everyone too. I too am sorry for the tragedy but come on!

Anonymous said...

Interesting about the magazine. There is some serious trickle down happening here and it goes direct to families. We now turn away slings that people bring in. One recent online coupons site was promoting Free slings if you just paid for shipping.

I guess on the bright side they still work pretty well for people carrying their dogs which are the only people buying them these days!

Ben S said...

I never understood why people carry/stroller their dogs. Fight canine obesity!

Anonymous said...

In discussions with CPSC, the topic of parent responsibility is strictly verboten. I'm a liberal, and even I think that's insane.

I also happen to know that yet another venerable sling company is closing shop after 20 years, completely because of CPSC's actions since March 2010. First, sales dropped after the March safety warning, then a rumor spread internationally that the CPSC was going to recall all slings - and as goes CPSC, so goes the world, they feel. This company's international sales dropped to 20% of the previous year's sales, so that's the end of another small business. That's one fewer option on the market for consumers.

The dirty little secret is that CPSC has not conducted *any* hazard analysis on this class of product (they've had many opportunities to share such an analysis, if it existed). Baby dies and they look for a company to blame, regardless of causality, regardless of what the parents or coroner feel caused the death. I have heard that this hasn't always been the case at CPSC, and I know for a fact that the scientists working in CPSC are uncomfortable with this state of affairs. But compliance staff seem not to care. Where is this attitude coming from, I ask?

Do you feel safer?

Rick Woldenberg, Chairman - Learning Resources Inc. said...

Not yet.