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The Consumer Product Safety Commission

Dateline: 01/30/98

As a kid, I had some amazing toys. Amazing that they let me grow up with all my fingers, toes, and eyes still attached and working. My safety probably came more from gentle fortune and parents who understood how fire and sharp things worked than from the designs of any of those toys. Even in this enlightened age of product safety awareness, I often think, “Why didn’t we know in 1955 that a toy belching a shower of sparks 10 feet through the air was pretty darn dangerous?” We had, after all, made atomic bombs and car air-conditioning work.

Maybe the problem was that we did not yet have the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This agency is charged with protecting the American public from being hurt during normal, reasonable usage of some15,000 types of products. This includes just about anything you can buy except food, cars, and drugs.

From CPSC's not so pretty, but very easy to navigate home page, you can read monthly product recalls and safety warnings dating back to June of 1997.

Safety Publications
In the extensive Publications section, you'll find complete reports or booklets online or for download in .PDF format on categories from Toy Safety to Power Equipment to Art Materials. Some examples? One thing you do not want to tangle with is a Brushcutter, and lots of kids are poisoned because nobody paid attention to Labeling of Art Materials.

The CPSC Library opens up access to safety bulletin archives, searching and special reports like this great detailed study of kids hurt in Shopping Cart Accidents.

Source: Consumer Products Safety Commission

Just for Kids
Kids have their own Kids Page, where they will find downloadable reports on selection and use of bike helmets, in-line skates, bicycles, and skateboards, just to name a few. These are great reports written specifically for kids.

Special Projects
Over the years, CPSC has participated in several very interesting and important projects. One outstanding example of these has been AnthroKids - Anthropometric Data of Children.
Anthropometrics, is the study of the physical dimensions and movements of the human body. In the AnthroKids study, the CPSC and the National Institute of Standards & Technology spent years measuring kids -- boys and girls -- while standing, sitting, running, walking, laying, etc. Measurements as detailed as reach, arm span, even finger span are studied with results displayed in table and in graphic formats. The data from the AnthroKids study is used by designers of toys, furniture, and lots of other kids products. The result? Better and safer products just for kids.

Reporting Product Safety Problems
Perhaps the most important page on the CPSC site is the Talk to CPSC page. Here, you'll find easy to use online forms you can use to Report Accident, Death or Unsafe Products. There is also the Health Care Professional Consumer Product Incident Report that can be used by doctors and other health professionals to submit very detailed reports.

Other Products
No, CSPS doesn't do cars, food, or drugs. But, don't worry, those and more have their own government watchdog agencies which will be featured right here over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

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