Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

As more communities lift pandemic-based restrictions on travel and social gathering sizes, Americans will increasingly begin moving homes and renovating furnished rental and guest rooms—which often includes replacing older mattresses.  Historically, mattresses were highly flammable and contributed significantly to house fires, leading Congress to address the safety concern through its enactment of the Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA) in the 1970s.

Through the FFA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has authority to regulate mattresses and mattress pads, including setting a federal flammability standard (16 C.F.R. § 1632), which was promulgated in 1973 to require ignition resistance of mattresses and mattress pads to smoldering cigarettes.  The standard applies to mattresses—including traditional mattresses of all sizes, crib mattresses, futons, mattresses in sleeper sofas and campers, and water bed and air mattresses containing upholstery materials—and mattress pads and covers.  The federal Standard for the Flammability (Open-Flame) of Mattress Sets (16 C.F.R. § 1633), which became effective in 2007, was designed to increase the time that consumers have to discover and escape bed fires by limiting the size of the fire generated by a mattress set.  Mattresses must meet the performance, labeling, and record keeping requirements of both standards as applicable before the products can be entered into commerce in the United States.


Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Mattress Recalls

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

As people increasingly turn to online shopping over traditional brick-and-mortar stores, consumers, safety advocacy groups, and regulators alike have begun to pay more attention to the authenticity and safety of products.  One particular concern is the presence of lead in consumer

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

The demand for consumer exercise equipment soared over the past year as Americans sought out ways to stay in shape while spending more time at home.  As more Americans create their own “home gyms” and purchase exercise equipment such as stationary

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

Extended time spent at home over the past year has encouraged many Americans to update, redecorate, and renovate their living spaces.  As more people choose to “DIY” their home renovations in lieu of hiring professional services, we turn our attention in

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

As winter temperatures continue to drop and we’re all looking for a way to feel cozy, many Americans reach for candles as a way to bring some light into their homes during these dark months.  We don’t need to detail why

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

“Smart” homes and personal electronic devices are no longer a futuristic ideal.  Millions of internet-connected phones, TVs, wearable fitness trackers, home security devices, home appliances, and digital assistants are in use in the United States today.  The internet of things (“IoT”) is the use of network sensors in physical devices to allow for remote monitoring and control.  These devices have made great strides in making our lives more convenient.  But interconnectivity and data collection can also have serious security and privacy implications.

Despite the dramatic increase in the number of IoT products purchased by American consumers over the past few years, the law is slower in addressing any potential hazards posed by IoT technologies.  However, we expect to see more IoT product-related regulations enacted at the federal level over the next few years. We recently wrote about the new Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which was signed into law on December 4, 2020. The legislation charges the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) with drafting and finalizing security requirements for IoT devices.


Continue Reading Recalls in Review: IoT Products

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

If you have ever owned a laptop or hoverboard self-balancing scooter, you’ve likely seen numerous headlines about the lithium-ion batteries overheating, melting, or igniting.  We recently wrote about ways in which companies can mitigate risks and execute recalls related to lithium ion batteries.  In today’s installment of “Recall’s in Review,” we look back at CPSC regulatory actions involving lithium-ion batteries.

The batteries have become a highly regulated product over the last several years.  The Commission has conducted at least 64 recalls involving lithium-ion batteries since 2006.  The number of recalls rose substantially in 2016 and 2017, many of which were related to the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries inside hoverboards and laptop computers.  The Commission took a more active role in warning consumers about the hazards posed by the batteries after two incidents of overheating lead to serious house fires in March and October of 2017.

Only one civil penalty relating to lithium-ion batteries has been issued by the Commission, in early 2012. The manufacturer was fined $425,000 for failure to timely report that certain lithium-ion battery packs could overheat.
Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Lithium-ion Batteries

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

Electric scooters have taken American cities by storm as micromobility companies expand to meet consumer demand for more convenient transportation options. As with bicycles, scooters have become a go-to option for consumers who are seeking socially distant activities and modes of transportation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regulation landscape for powered scooters is still being charted. Although a federal safety standard which addresses electrical systems and lithium-ion batteries in personal e-mobility devices (ANSI/CAN/UL 2272) exists, there is no corresponding safety standard for regulating the overall operational, mechanical, or electrical safety aspects of powered scooters. Additional standards may be promulgated in the near future, however. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Consumer Products Subcommittee on Powered Scooters and Skateboards (F15.58) has begun developing a proposed standard intended to minimize the common hazards associated with use of commercial electric-powered scooters by adults.

Given the lack of a mandatory federal safety standard for powered scooters, it is unsurprising that recalls of powered scooters were infrequent in in the first two decades that the products were on the market. The Commission has conducted 34 total recalls of powered scooters. Only nine of the recalls occurred between 1996 and 2015. The small enforcement “spike” in 2005 corresponds with CPSC efforts to track emergency-room visits related to powered scooters. At least 10,015 emergency room-treated injuries occurring between July 2003 and June 2004 were related to powered scooters. Recalls increased dramatically as hoverboards (also referred to as “self-balancing” electric scooters) were introduced to the market. Fourteen recalls of powered scooters were conducted in 2016 alone, closely followed by another ten recalls in 2017.


Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Electric- and Gas-Powered Scooters

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

As bicycles become a go-to social distancing option for consumers, we turn our attention in this Recalls in Review segment to an associated (and also closely regulated) product—bicycle helmets.  The CPSC mandates that all bicycle helmets manufactured or imported since March 17, 1995 meet the standard set forth in 16 CFR Part 1203.1(c).  This mandatory standard covers bicycle helmets and multipurpose helmets that can be used when riding a bicycle.  The standard does not cover helmets marketed for exclusive use in another designated activity, such as baseball or skateboarding.  (16 CFR Part 1203.4(b)).

The Commission has conducted 26 bicycle helmet recalls, with the first occurring in 1995 and the latest just last week.  CPSC attention to helmets remains fairly steady over time, with at least one recall most years, and no significant enforcement “spikes” at any point.


Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Bicycle Helmets

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

Certain products, like toilet paper and disinfectant, flew off of store shelves when the country began responding to the current COVID-19 pandemic. In recent months, new and used bicycles have become one of the next “must have” items as people look for socially distant activities and alternative modes of transportation.

The CPSC has regulated bicycles and their component parts since the 1970s. Just last month, the Commission published a Safety Alert regarding bicycle handle bars– warning consumers to inspect their bicycle handlebars for sharp, exposed metal ends, which can pose a serious impalement hazard. At least six impalement deaths and 2,000 emergency room visits between 2000 and 2019 are linked to bicycle handlebars, according to the alert. Plastic or rubber grips on the ends of bicycle handlebars can prevent those injuries and CPSC’s regulation requires handlebar ends to be capped or otherwise covered.

The CPSC has conducted 253 recalls of bicycles and bicycle parts since 2001.[1]


Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Bicycle and Bicycle Part Recalls