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Yesterday the President and Members of Congress received copies of our final report. And today as Chairman of the National Commission

The CHAIRMAN. May I interrupt you just a minute ?

This report, of course, is going to be in great demand and maybe later on in your statement you will tell us about it, but the committee would like to have at least some detail as to how these reports will be made available and whether we should have committee prints, because I am sure every member of the committee and many, many people will want to see a copy of this report. So if that is not in your statement, we can talk about that later.

Mr. ELKIND. I would be very happy to cover the points at this time, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. White ?

Mr. WHITE. Yes. We will have copies available to all members of the committee and others, but it would be desirable if the demand is great to have a committee print.

The CHAIRMAN. I am thinking about the public, consumers groups, and other Members of Congress. I am sure there is going to be widespread demand for copies of this final report. We are going to have to print quite a few of them.

Go ahead.

Mr. ELKIND. Mr. Chairman, study and investigations must precede recommendations and we devoted the better part of 2 years to investigations.

As you anticipated in the legislation establishing this Commission, we found unreasonable hazards to American consumers from household products.

American technology is a worldwide marvel. Surely a country famed for its innovative techniques can apply this expertise to safety. We found, however, that appearance, performance, and sometimes potential obsolescence were first considerations. Safety, generally speaking, might be called the low man on the merchandising totem pole. America and Americans are promotion minded. And it is easy to promote and sell something that looks smart and apparently does what is asked of it. Manufacturers seem to accept the idea that sa fety does not sell as an article of faith.

The prevailing opinion for decades seems to have been that if a consumer is injured he must have misused the product. We found this is not necessarily so. And we further found out that a certain amount of consumer misuse can be anticipated and allowed for if the design engineers are heeded. We do not imply that a manufacturer willingly markets a hazardous product. But we do maintain that too often he does not take safety design factors into account.

The American householder surrounds himself with products for which there are no standards. Not all these products, of course, are lethal or even injurious. But far too many common household products contain an element of danger. We believe that something can and should be done about this. It seems absurd to have an American home an unsuspected boobytrap.

1 See Appendix for a reprint of the Commission's Summary of Findings, Recommendations and Proposed Consumer Product Safety Act.



For example, we found that architectural glass often used in homes for sliding doors causes about 150,000 injuries a year. But glass panels made of safety-glazed material will not shatter into jagged shards, so that most of these injuries should never have occurred.

We found hot water vaporizers which heat water to about 180 degrees after a few hours' operation. Young children have repeatedly tipped them over. Their screams awaken parents, but not in time to prevent second- and third-degree burns over large portions of their bodies.

We found high rise bicycles which—with their stylish "banana" seat, high handle bars, and small front wheels-encourage and facilitate stunt riding, and consequently cause a greater number of injuries.

Furniture polish using 95 percent petroleum distillates has caused fatal chemical pneumonia in young children who have ingested it. Such polishes are packaged in ordinary screw cap bottles, colored like soft drinks, and scented attractively.

Power rotary lawnmowers chop off toes and fingers and hurl objects at bystanders with the speed of shell fragments. An estimated 140,000 persons are injured by these machines each year. Careful redesign would reduce these dangers.

Some of the toys which triggered our concern last year are still available in the marketplace in spite of the passage of the Child Protection and Toy Safety Act of 1969.

These products and the following additional product categories were found by the Commission to include unreasonably hazardous makes and models: color television sets, fireworks, floor furnaces, glass bottles, household chemicals, infant furniture, ladders, power tools, protective headgear, unvented gas heaters, and wringer washing machines.

In many cases we found consumers could not reasonably be expected to protect themselves because they could not know the hazard existed or how to deal with it effectively. In many cases the risk could be reduced at minimal cost, either by redesigning the product or adding to it an inexpensive safety feature. The annual cost of product-related injuries in the United States may exceed $5.5 billion.

Other hazardous products also mentioned in our report escaped being called "unreasonable" in part because we lacked time to investigate them as fully as the 16 categories already mentioned. These products are listed in a section of our report called Unfinished Business. If those words contain a hint of our anxiety let me assure you it is entirely intentional. After further study it is quite possible that many of these products and others we do not even know about may also be found unreasonably hazardous to American consumers.

The annual toll of 20 million injuries—110,000 of which cause permanent disability—and 30,000 deaths are associated with a great variety of products. To accept the status quo in view of this appalling waste of human lives would be to betray our mandate as well as our moral sensitivities.

I might add at this point that this is violence in the home by any definition. Strangely enough, these figures would seem to indicate that when an American leaves the streets and highways—where he may suspect that he is in jeopardy—to enter his home, he is in a more dangerous environment than he just left.

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Because American industry may lack the incentive for safety necessary to overcome what may be an irreconcilable profit motive, government must be its gadfly. Cognizant of the national character of the problem, and having borne witness to paramount examples of the failure of municipal and statewide attempts at redress, we believe that the leadership in this effort to eliminate unreasonable hazards in the marketplace is appropriately and peculiarly a function of the Federal Government. The Federal role should be to encourage movement and concern with respect to safety, to oversee performance, and to police and punish those who unreasonably violate their duty to produce safe products-all of this, without interfering with the creative and innovative energies of the free enterprise system.

Methods now used to reduce hazards associated with these products are chronically deficient; namely, industry self-regulation (by standards-making groups, trade associations, testing labs, or by each manufacturer); some limited Federal safety laws; State and local laws and private common law actions. We have concluded that none of these controls nor any combination of them presently provides adequate protection for consumers.

Self-regulation relies on voluntary safety standards. We found instances where an industry's notion of a standard seemed to be whatever was a little better than shoddy. These are arrived at through assent of manufacturers--or a consensus among them—which permits the least responsible members of an industry to retard progress in reducing hazards. Once consensus is reached the standards are legally unenforceable. Furthermore, the efforts of individual manufacturers, sometimes laudable, to raise levels of safety and avoid tragic death and injury, are usually retarded by competitive economic forces.

In the standards-making process itself, consumer representationbroadly meaning nonindustry representation—is often a kind of window dressing without the least potential for influencing the outcome of a standard, much less having the votes to defeat it.

Authority under Federal law to curb hazards in consumer products within our area of concern is virtually nonexistent. We have listed about 350 categories of consumer products in our report which are basically unregulated or underregulated. Congress has hitherto opted for a piecemeal approach by passing acts treating hazards associated with a single product or class of products. Even the implementation of these acts is hampered by unnecessary procedural obstacles, weak investigative powers, inadequate and ill-fitting sanctions, timid administration, and small budgets. No Government agency possesses general authority to assure that products which may harbor unreasonable risks conform to minimum sa fety standards and to inform the consumer of essential sa fety information.

State and local laws also demonstrate the inadequacies of existing safety legislation. These laws, often passed in response to specific tragedy, frequently deal with such isolated products as bedding, matches or exploding golf balls. In addition to the laws' limited effectiveness in protecting consumers they often present significant obstacles to manufacturers who are forced to comply with conflicting State and local requirements.

Finally, the common law, though increasingly successful in compensating victims, seldom causes manufacturers to take preventive measures as a result of adverse judgments. Even if they do, it is too late to help the victims of misdesigned products.

What are our recommendations to end this clearly unsatisfactory situation ?

We need first a national program to assist in reducing hazards associated with consumer products. This program should be aimed at preventing accidents through encouraging careful design and testing of products. We believe the recommendations we now place before this committee are the least expensive and most effective means toward that end.

Enactment of a comprehensive Consumer Product Safety Act is our first recommendation. It contains in legislative form the best answers we have found to the problems I discussed earlier. It is an omnibus act. It provides a way to deal with all consumer products, not just specific items or classes of products.

To assure that safety receives the attention it deserves we recommend that the Consumer Product Safety Commission to be created upon passage of the act should be an independent agency. The commission can then devote its full time and full budget to problems of safety. Safety will not be lost in the complexities of a larger department. An independent agency is also more visible. It can more easily communicate with the public and industry. We learned during our 2-year existence that industry will often take the initiative to reduce hazards when a hazardous situation is brought to its attention. We believe an independent Commission with the powers I will discuss can more easily do this. The primary powers we have proposed for the Commission are to:

(1) Develop and set mandatory consumer product safety standards when necessary;

(2) Enjoin use of consumer products which violate Federal safety standards or are unreasonably hazardous;

(3) Require notice to consumers and recall or replacement of substantially defective products;

(4) Make reasonable on-site inspection of manufacturing facilities;

(5) Establish an injury information clearinghouse to analyze causes of product-related deaths and injuries and disseminate information to the public on consumer products; and

(6) Conduct public hearings and subpena witnesses and documents. Under the proposed legislation, if safety standards are insufficient to insure reasonable safety of certain products the Commission is empowered to ban those products from the market by a rulemaking procedure; if the hazard presents an imminent danger to the public health, the Commission can ban the products during the proceeding. In addition we recommend that the Commission have authority to seek an injunction in the Federal courts where an unreasonably hazardous product is being marketed.

To insure compliance with its orders the Commission should be able to draw from a wide and appropriate range of civil and criminal penalties. For example, the proposed act imposes a fine of $2,000 per violation on any person who manufactures, offers for sale or introduces into commerce a product which does not meet mandatory standards or which has been banned. Each product violating the act is a separate offense, but fines may not exceed $500,000 for related series of offenses. Criminal penalties of up to $50,000 fine and 180 days in jail are suggested for knowing or willful violations. Under our proposed Consume Product Safety Act, the Commission can require manufacturers or sellers to notify purchasers of a product that it does not comply with Federal standards or is defective and unreasonably dangerous. Finally, the new Commission could order the product recalled or have a manufacturer bring it into compliance with applicable mandatory standards.

We also concluded that consumers should be encouraged to help themselves in case of injury. We thus recommend treble damage suits by injured persons, either individually or as a class, against a manufacturer causing an injury by a knowing or willful violation of a Federal consumer product safety standard.

To facilitate consumers' helping themselves, courts have recently relaxed the traditional rules of "standing” to allow more consumers to defend their own interests in agency proceedings. Yet time and expense limits consumer participation. To insure that consumer interests are consistently defended, we propose a Consumer Safety Advocate whose exclusive responsibility is to defend consumer interests. His authority will extend to receiving and acting on complaints from the public, Congress or other agencies, proposing modifications of standards or other regulations, requesting initiation of Commission proceedings, and appearing before the Commission in rulemaking proceedings. The Advocate, we expect will make effective consumer representation before the new Commission.

I have already mentioned that good mandatory sa fety standards are important to insuring the safety of household products. But adherence to standards, particularly with complex products, can only be verified by sophisticated testing methods. In appropriate cases, a testing program will be essential. We rejected as unnecessary and exhorbitantly expensive premarket testing of all consumer products by Government. As an alternative we recommend that the Consumer Product Safety Commission have the authority, in cooperation with the Department of Commerce, to accredit private testing laboratories and require independent testing of products in situations where a mandatory Federal standard is in effect or where the Commission finds a substantial hazard exists.

Prevention is the key to reducing the number of product injuries. Yet despite careful design and premarket testing, products on the market may be found unreasonably hazardous. To act effectively, the Commission must identify as quickly as possible these unreasonable hazardous products. We have, therefore, recommended that the new Commission operate an Injury Information Clearinghouse to collect, analyze, and publicize information on causes and prevention of product-related injuries.

We know such a program is needed. Our Commission did not find good reliable sources of data on such injuries. We have experimented with data collection techniques including a touchtone telephone system which records in a central data bank information from several hos

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