April 3, 2019
Most parents and parents-to-be spend a significant amount of time researching products they intend to buy for their children well before entering their credit card info. And, thankfully, there are agencies and organizations put in place to investigate the safety and security of these products and indicate whether or not they could pose even the slightest risk to our little ones.
However, one company's ability to beat the system despite the Consumer Product Safety Commission's plea for a recall is garnering media attention. A shocking new investigation from the Washington Post revealed President Trump's appointee to the agency's chair—the most powerful position—played a big role in keeping BOB jogging strollers on the market.
The strollers, made by Britax Child Safety, one of the most popular brands in child safety technology, have injured nearly 100 adults and children. The Consumer Product Safety Commission gathered this information from 200 consumer-submitted reports between 2012 and 2018. The injuries were sustained when the stroller wheel, which is secured to a front fork by a quick-release level, spontaneously failed.
In 2017, after a months-long investigation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission decided the popular jogging stroller was not safe for use and needed to be recalled.
In response, Britax Child Safety refused the voluntary recall of nearly 500,000 strollers and defended their level of safety. The Post revealed the company also spent $40,000 on a lobbyist in 2018 to back up its claims. The commission then sued in February 2018 in order to make the recall happen. Britax didn't back down, which the Post pointed out was "unusual" since companies normally steer clear of issues with safety regulators.
To quite literally add insult to injury, the change in leadership at the Consumer Product Safety Commission under President Trump directly affected the handling of the product, the article said.
As republicans gained control over the five-person commission when Ann Marie Buerkle became acting chairwoman in February 2017, Democratic commissioners were left in the dark about the stroller investigation, according to the Post. Buerkle also helped settle the court case with a 3-to-2 commission vote approval, which Democrats referred to as "aggressively misleading" and a means to downplay the risks to consumers.
Under the settlement, Britax simply had to "launch a public-safety campaign and offer replacement parts or discounts on new strollers to affected users who requested them."
According to consumer advocates, these changes in the leadership of an agency so integral to the safety of the well-being of consumers, especially children and parents, may serve as a worrisome signal for the some 15,000 everyday products reviewed on a daily basis.
If you're concerned over the safety of your child's stroller, consider taking a look at the precautions outlined by KidsHealth®.