Our son, Danny, was 16 months old when that poorly engineered, inadequately tested and recalled portable crib took his life in 1998, and he was not the only child killed by that product. After we buried Danny, we learned that 1.5 million portable cribs of similar collapsing, top-rail design, produced by five manufacturers, were sold and then recalled, but most remained unaccounted for and may still be in use. The Playskool Travel Lite alone took the life of one baby for every 2000 units sold.
At that time there was no requirement that children’s products be tested for safety before they were sold. The U.S. regulatory system allowed untested and dangerous children’s products to easily make it into the marketplace, their flaws tragically discovered by our children.
Since Danny’s death, we have worked tirelessly to improve America’s children’s product safety system. We rejoiced when Congress finally passed the CPSIA, including the Danny Keysar Child Safety Notification Act – Danny’s Law – named after our son. It assured parents that for the first time juvenile products had to be independently tested for safety before we brought them into our homes. It requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to issue strong safety standards that juvenile and toddler products have to meet. It also provides parents with the opportunity to register their products with the manufacturer – making sure they would be notified about recalls. Importantly, the CPSIA ensures childcare facilities and other public accommodations could only use safe cribs that met federal standards. Our Danny died in a licensed childcare home that had just been inspected by the state days before.
The CPSIA led to the creation of a powerful product safety tool – the Consumer Product Safety Incident Database – Saferproducts.gov. It allows consumers to submit and search “reports of harm” about products. Today the database enables individuals to scan all reports about products and spot potential safety problems long before reported incidents may have triggered a recall.
The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act (S. 3468), scheduled to be marked up by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Nov. 15, is designed to look like a simple bill that gives the president the authority to extend a few reporting requirements to independent agencies. In reality, the sweeping reach of this proposal would lead to delays in the work of all regulatory agencies, including the CPSC. By mandating a whole new layer of economic analysis requirements, S. 3468 would significantly delay or prevent the implementation of the safety protections issued by the CPSC, leaving American children without the critical protections created by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. It would introduce new bureaucratic roadblocks to any significant agency action, no matter how necessary or important. The bill also lays the foundation for unprecedented White House influence over independent agencies and could give future presidents the ability to shut down any independent agency regulations they oppose.
The CPSC and other regulatory agencies enforce sensible safeguards that protect all Americans, including our most vulnerable citizens—our babies. It is unconscionable that lawmakers are now considering S. 3468, a bill that would undermine the lifesaving work of our nation’s regulatory agencies.
Ginzel and Keysar are co-founders of Kids In Danger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by improving children’s product safety.