While the holidays are over, hopefully the kids are still getting some mileage out of their gifts. Chances are, some of those included toys. Safety of children’s products is largely overseen by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which announced recently it was teaming up with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) to halt the flow of dangerous toys from reaching children this season.
The effectiveness of the effort this past year is still being weighed, but we do know this: Over the four years prior, the team stopped more than 8 million units of about 4,500 different kinds of toys and children’s products that failed to meet federal safety standards from reaching store shelves. These shipments included high levels of lead, small parts, sharp points and violations of labeling requirements. Further, in fiscal year 2016, the number of toy recalls fell sharply to 24, with only one of those being a lead violation, as compared to the 172 toy recalls issued in fiscal year 2009, with 19 of those involving high lead levels. Last year, toys were recalled for dangers that included fire and mechanical and choking hazards.
A new report released by the CPSC indicated that in 2015, there were an estimated 185,500 toy-related injuries that had to be treated at hospital emergency rooms. These cases involved only children under the age of 15, and at least 11 incidents resulted in death (final death counts may not yet be available). Most toy-related injuries involved some type of cut or bruise. Of those injuries that resulted in death, nearly half were riding toys – specifically, non-motorized scooters.
When a child suffers serious injury or death as a result of using a product, parents can and should explore a product liability claim, not only for their own sake, but for the sake of other children and parents. Product manufacturers and distributors need to be held to account when they stock store shelves with items that they know or should know are potentially perilous for kids without offering an adequate warning.
The ASTM prepares the standards consumer safety specifications for toy safety. These include guidelines for heavy elements, cleanliness, small objects, accessible edges, instructions and flammability. However, these don’t cover every possible hazard for every single toy. They are more looking at things like, “Does the toy withstand typical wear and tear of use?” and, “Do small parts break off if the toy is dropped,” and, “Does it rip when pulled?”
The CPSC does enforce these standards, but it lacks the resources to test every toy, especially when you consider that manufacturers produce anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 new toys annually. Meanwhile, the CPSC has about 520 employees as of this month – including 120 investigators and compliance officers. They are not solely focused on toys, either.
According to the latest toy injury report, the toys that posed the greatest risk of fatality included:
- Non-motorized scooters. Four boys between the ages of 4 and 8 were struck and killed by motor vehicles while riding non-motorized scooters.
- Water guns. Two boys, ages 2 and 6, drowned while playing with water guns near residential swimming pools.
- Balloons. One boy, age 20 months, choked while chewing a deflated balloon.
- Balls. A 4-year-old boy drowned after falling in a pool while trying to retrieve a ball.
- Play modeling compounds. A 6-year-old girl died after ingesting a large amount of the modeling compound.
- Squeaky toy. A 13-year-old with developmental delays died after choking on a squeaky toy.
If your child is injured as a result of a defective or dangerous toy, our injury lawyers will help you explore your legal options.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Safer Together: CPSC and CBP Collaborate to Keep Unsafe Toys Off Store Shelves, November 2016, CPSC Press Release
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