Last year, the CPSC announced 241 withdrawals, even for unstable furniture, flammable clothing and dangerous lawn mowers. The highest profile retreat involved 5 million units of the popular Fisher-Price Rock Play n Play, an inclined sleeper for babies linked to more than 30 deaths.
The 2019 total has dropped 7 percent since 2018, which itself was 8 percent lower than in 2017. That is the year that Republican Ann Marie Buerkle assumed the position of acting president of the commission after President Trump will nominate her for the position, giving her daily control of the agency. She resigned from her leadership position at the end of September, instead of seeking Senate confirmation for a new mandate, amid criticism about her handling of security problems.
The CPSC under Buerkle also recorded a steady decline in the number of companies affected with civil penalties for not following the safety rules, falling from six companies in 2016 to none in 2019, according to agency data.
"It always felt like something was holding them back," said Nancy Cowles, executive director of the Kids in Danger defense group, who said she doubted that the drop in activity is because products are safer.
CPSC spokesman Joe Martyak warned against using withdrawal numbers to judge the agency's performance, noting that they do not reflect the efforts of other agencies to prevent unsafe products from reaching consumers and the numbers do not distinguish between different levels of danger.
Last November's withdrawal of 270 FlipStix knitting needles (reports of needle breakage but no injuries) is counted the same as last July's withdrawal of 9,700 Cannondale bicycles (report of the fork of the bicycle that suddenly fractured, causing several injuries serious and one death).
The CPSC withdrawal list also contains only those withdrawals that companies agreed to make. CPSC market withdrawals are almost always voluntary. If a company refuses to withdraw, the agency can file a lawsuit. But he rarely takes that step.
The last withdrawal lawsuit came in 2018, when the three Democratic commissioners of the agency voted to cancel Buerkle's objections and went to court to force Britax to withdraw his stroller to run BOB. The stroller was involved in hundreds of crashes caused by the sudden detachment of the stroller's front wheel. The case ended in a controversial agreement, approved by the new Republican majority of the agency, which allows Britax to avoid a formal withdrawal. Instead, the company launched an information campaign that, as the Post report later revealed, did not notify some retailers as required and offered a defective solution to some consumers.
Now, with a new acting president headed by CPSC, Democrat Robert Adler, the agency is trying a different tactic to force the hand of reluctant companies.
The CPSC issued a security alert for rare products last Wednesday, and made it clear that the agency wanted the product to be recalled. The warning said that a four-drawer chest of drawers made by Hodedah was a dump risk and that the CPSC "intends to continue pressing the case to retire with Hodedah."
The warning was unusual because he acknowledged that the agency and the company did not agree on the need for a recall. Withdrawal negotiations are not normally disclosed to the public, which gives companies considerable leverage.
Hodedah, a Brooklyn-based manufacturer, did not respond to requests for comment. The CPSC warning notice said the agency discovered the problem during its own stability tests on Hodedah's dresser. The agency is developing mandatory safety standards for furniture. The furniture drop was attributed to 89 deaths, mostly children, from 2014 to 2018, the agency said.
Wednesday's security alert is known as "unilateral" within the CPSC because it is one of the few ways regulators can take action without the permission of a company, according to a senior agency official who did not have permission. To talk to the media. The tool is rarely used. The last one was in 2011 for a high chair for babies that was attached to a table, which was associated with several injuries. Three months after that alert, the company agreed to a formal withdrawal.
Adler said in a statement that, while it is difficult to judge the performance of the CPSC based on retirement statistics, "I have been open about my desire for the agency to serve as a more vocal control body for consumers, and I hope may we get there in the near future. "
Withdrawals fell almost 15 percent during Buerkle's almost three-year period, compared to the same period of time before, The Post found.
Products removed from store shelves in 2019 included 19 motorized vehicles, such as snowmobiles and recreational utility vehicles. Ten retreats involved bicycles and bicycle accessories. Six were for children's sleep products.