Congressional Democrats have introduced a bill that would make it easier for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to warn people about unsafe products by repealing part of a 49-year-old law restricting what information the agency can disclose publicly.
The Sunshine in Product Safety Act (PDF) comes after reports that the fitness equipment company Peloton “obstructed CPSC’s investigation” into its Peloton Tread Plus treadmill, members of Congress said. The Tread Plus has been involved in approximately 39 accidents involving injuries to children, including one death.
The CPSC “was unable to warn the public of the reported incidents involving children, pets and objects pulled under the treadmill until a month later,” congressmen said. “These incidents ranged from minor injuries to broken limbs, brain damage and even death. Some incidents also occurred while the treadmill was being operated and used by an adult. The CPSC had to “negotiate with Peloton the wording and timing of the warning” because of Section 6 (b).
Section 6 (b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (PDF) limits what information the CPSC may disclose if it receives a safety hazard report about a product or manufacturer. Congress amended Section 6 (b) of the Act in 1981, generally requiring the CPSC to keep information confidential unless the company involved has agreed otherwise, or if the two parties have worked out a settlement agreement. There is an exception where the CPSC can disclose information if it can prove there is a “substantial product hazard” to public health and safety, but a company can sue to prevent the CPSC from also disclosing information.
The Sunshine in Product Safety Act would delete section 6 (b) entirely if it became law.
The CPSC declined to comment on Thursday. But CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler said in an emailed statement The edge that he “strongly believes that repealing Section 6 (b) would allow the CPSC to provide consumers with more safety information sooner.”
The Washington Post reported that last Friday Platoon had declined a request from the CPSC to call the Tread Plus. The two parties were involved in negotiating the wording of a warning to alert consumers to the potential dangers of the Tread Plus and when to release the warning. Platoon did not provide the CPSC with personal information about the child who died in an incident involving a Tread Plus – it claims the child’s family did not request it – until the CPSC presented it with a subpoena.
Platoon said in a statement that the agency “falsely characterized Peloton’s efforts to cooperate and correct inaccuracies in the CPSC press release as an attempt at delay. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The CPSC, Peloton claims, was “unwilling to enter into any meaningful discussions with Peloton before issuing its inaccurate and misleading press release.” Post that it did not believe a treadmill recall was necessary.
Saturday is finally the day has issued a warning about Peloton Tread Plus treadmills, saying the machines “pose serious risks to children from abrasions, fractures and death.” Platoon CEO John Foley had said in a blog post in March that the company was aware that a child was killed in an accident on the treadmill.
The CPSC also posted a video (keep in mind the video is disturbing) showing what can happen in a Tread Plus accident, with camera footage of a child being pulled under the treadmill and nearly crushed before it can escape.
The agency urged consumers with children at home to stop using the Tread Plus immediately, due to “multiple reports of children getting trapped, trapped and pulled under the rear roller of the product.”
“CPSC must be able to act quickly to warn Americans when products such as the Peloton Tread + and the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper pose a threat to them and their families,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “But current legal restrictions allow companies to choose how and when to inform the public about their hazardous products, while keeping important safety information to the public.”
The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play to which Blumenthal referred was a recliner intended for putting babies to sleep. recalled in 2019 after 30 reports of infant mortality. Blumenthal chairs the Senate Trade, Science, and Transportation Committee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security.
Platoon did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Update April 22, 5:30 PM ET: Adds comments from Acting CPSC Chairman Robert Adler