Unforeseen hazards are still finding their way into toys despite recently improved safety standards, illustrating the need for a strong civil justice system that protects children and holds negligent manufacturers accountable.
Since 1974, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued more than 850 recalls for toy products, many for hazards like magnets, lead and other dangers hidden in our children’s toys. Between 2004 and 2008, toy-related injuries increased 12 percent, and over the last 10 years, toy-related injuries have increased 54 percent.
The CPSC is woefully under-resourced to cope with the flood of new products entering the U.S. marketplace. Until 2007, the CPSC had only 15 inspectors to monitor all ports in the United States for all products, and only one employee to conduct safety tests on toys.
The result of such corporate negligence and regulatory powerlessness is that dangerous products can be sold on shelves for years before the public has any idea of their hazards. A Public Citizen analysis of consumer recalls found that companies waited an average of 993 days to inform the CPSC of defects, and the agency then waited another 209 days before informing the public.
In the face of such risks, and with so few resources at hand, the nation has come to rely on parents, consumer groups and the civil justice system to serve both as an early warning system and an enforcement mechanism against negligent corporations and their dangerous toys.