The Consumer Product Safety Commission Should Act More Promptly To Protect the Public From Hazardous Products

HRD-78-122: Published: Jun 1, 1978. Publicly Released: Jun 1, 1978.

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The Consumer Product Safety Act provides that, if the Consumer Product Safety Commission determines after an administrative hearing that a product presents a substantial hazard, it may order a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer to give public notice of the defect, repair the defect, replace the product, or refund the purchase price.

The Commission has been slow in identifying hazardous products and in alerting the public of their dangers. For example, after the Commission identified a potentially hazardous smoke detector, it was not prompt in alerting the public, it was slow in evaluating the seriousness of the hazard, and it did not follow its own procedures by effectively monitoring the recall. Other banned products were not promptly repurchased and remained in consumers' hands or were available for sale to the public. Some products containing asbestos were allowed to stay on the market longer than they should have because of the Commission's policy at the time to direct resources towards acute rather than chronic hazards, its decision not to classify a consumer complaint as a petition, and its failure to act promptly on an internal memorandum discussing asbestos hazards and recommending a ban on the products.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Commission should revise its procedures to provide for the prompt analysis of product samples and prompt notification to firms whose products are banned and should more actively monitor the repurchase of banned products. Congress should amend the Federal Hazardous Substances Act to provide that violations to repurchase provisions are a prohibited act subject to penalties, and the Commission should be given the additional authority to assess civil money penalties for violations of the act.

    Agency Affected:


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