January 23, 2002
CPSC Votes Against Rulemaking For
Baby Bath Seats
- The U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission voted (2-1) today (with Commissioners Gall and
Jones-Smith in the majority and Chairman Brown in the minority) against
initiating formal rulemaking proceedings on baby bath seats, which are
associated with 14 deaths and 7 near-drownings since 1983 of babies age 6 to
15 months. The commission believed that under the Federal Hazardous
Substance Act, the design and manufacture of these products do not present a
mechanical hazard or an unreasonable risk of injury to consumers.
The commission also voted (2-1) (with Gall and Jones-Smith in the majority
and Brown in the minority) to work with industry to initiate a public
information campaign focusing on the risks taken by parents and other
caregivers who leave children unattended in bathtubs.
Vice Chairman Mary Sheila Gall, noting that parents and caregivers left the
victims unattended for lengthy periods of time, stated, "It is clear that
the irresponsible actions of those entrusted with caring for these children
have, almost without exception, caused their deaths. If the commission fails
to address this issue, we will have failed in exercising our responsibility
to alert consumers to the primary cause of these tragedies. Parents and
caregivers must use these products as labelled and never leave a baby
unattended in a bathtub."
Commissioner Jacqueline Jones-Smith said, "Bathtubs and unattended babies
are a deadly combination. No product, no device, no convenience of any kind
can substitute for the physical presence of a parent or caregiver. The
incidents associated with bathtub seats and rings that have occurred were
all tragic and preventable events. But these were all human tragedies and
not product failures. These bath seats and rings contained no manufacturing
or design defects that constituted a mechanical hazard."
Chairman Ann Brown said, "I'm disappointed with the commission's decision on
baby bath seats, which encourage dangerous consumer behavior by instilling a
false sense of security in a parent, who would normally never leave a baby
alone in water - not even for a second. These products possess the hidden
hazard of convincing the user that the product creates a safer environment
for a baby. And, the sturdier, more durable looking the seat, the more
likely the consumer is to leave the baby unattended for a moment."
Today's action will not affect the commission's ability to recall defective
products, including baby bath seats, when warranted. With 1.4 million baby
bath seats in use today, the CPSC urges parents and caregivers who are using
baby bath seats to:
Never leave a baby alone in the water for even a second. Keep baby in arms
Never use the baby bath seat in a non-skid, slip-resistant bathtub.
Check to see that the suction cups are securely attached to the bath seat
and tub surface.