A recall is when the government and/or the manufacturer remove a product from the market because it is dangerous and poses a risk of serious harm. Product recalls happen seemingly every month. From October 2014 to October 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported over 230 product recalls on their website. Some of these recalls pose a fairly innocuous threat, but some – like the pacifier clips sold by Chewbeads, recalled on September 29, 2015 for a choking hazard – can be life-threatening.
Of all the products that are recalled on a regular basis, some of the most dangerous products come in the form of household goods.
According to a new report from Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS™, household goods form the majority of all product recalls. This only makes sense; our homes are filled with household goods, ranging from appliances to chemicals, furnishings, and the like, that are used on a daily basis without any real thought from most families about their danger.
But due to the fact that household goods are everywhere, they pose a greater risk – especially when they’re subject to a product recall that goes ignored by consumers.
Longer Shelf Life Leads to More Risk
Appliances in particular are at risk for recall and threats to safety because of their long shelf lives. An appliance like a dryer, for example, is intended to last 5-10 years or more. This means they are in use for far longer than other types of recalled goods.
The danger that comes with longevity is simple: many of these appliances that are at risk for recalls – and indeed, a majority of those recalled over the past five years – were actually manufactured in the 1990’s. That means they aren’t as modern as newer models and have less safeguards built into them to protect against fire, electrical shock, collapse, overheating and other threats.
Indeed, 15 million appliances have been recalled thanks to fire concerns since 2010, according to Stericycle.
There is a good chance that the average household has had at least one household good that has been subject to a product recall or will be recalled at some point in the future. For goods with a longer shelf life, that risk increases with time.
Children and Infants at Increased Risk
The report from Stericycle also pointed out that children and infants products are at a higher risk of recalls. Children’s products in particular formed 12 percent of the third quarter’s consumer events, or events related to safety issues (such as recalls).
Part of this is because of increased scrutiny over product recalls in the recent past, some of which were high-profile cases that resulted in injuries and deaths. Part of this is because children’s goods are resold often, which can make it difficult to recall deficient products. There is also the threat that some retailers may be knowingly or unknowingly selling recalled products, which is illegal and subject to penalties from the CPSC – although enforcement is difficult. Drop side cribs are another example of dangerous products that have been the subject of recalls due to their ability to entrap and suffocate children.
Consumers with children need to pay special attention to product recall notices that impact children and infants. Every product that is purchased for an infant or child needs to be researched to make sure it is not the subject of a recall or warning. The CPSC website is a good resource for product research.
As product liability lawyers, we are constantly handling cases involving injury or death on behalf of families as a result of defective products. That’s why checking product recall notices is so important. Be mindful of the household goods you bring into your home, the clothing and toys you buy for your children, the vehicles you drive, the food you eat, and the electronics and appliances you use on a regular basis.
Contact us if you have any questions or need a consultation on a potential case.