Last week, Inez Tenenbaum, Consumer Product Safety Commission chairwoman, pledged to make a mandatory safety standard this year to ban the sale and manufacture of baby cribs with sides that drop down. She says that 32 children in the past decade have suffocated or been strangled in these cribs.
The former state Superintendent of Education, Tenenbaum has been given almost free reign to rebuild the Consumer Product Safety Commission and she wants to make the agency more proactive:
The CPSC in the last few years has been in a reactive mode: reacting against lead in children’s products, nursery equipment that is improperly made. And what I would like to do is be more proactive to engage industry and education. And be more proactive with foreign government in terms of asking them to make their own companies comply with our laws.
Tenenbaum says this includes keeping a closer eye on what comes into the U.S., being “pro-active in knowing what is in a shipment of products before it leaves its point of origin, rather than trying to stop it once it gets here.”
Now that most of the nation’s consumer products come from other parts of the world, Tenenbaum says her agency’s job is a large one.
We have to have enforcement at our ports. We have to have personnel who can educate manufacturers and foreign governments on what are safe products. We also have to have compliance personnel that can look at these products and determine whether or not they are defective and do the engineering and chemical analysis necessary for us to recall a defective product.
Tenenbaum is creating a new strategic plan for her agency to be released at the end of next month. She has been at the helm of regulating consumer products now for almost a year. She says her commission is on the rise in federal government importance.
For many years it was cut back in budget cuts to try to balance the budget. And then the scare of lead in children’s toys and children’s products made congress realize that the agency had been cut to the point that it was not effective in protecting consumers. So, we have doubled our budget in the last four years. And in my talks before congress recently, I’m asked, “do you need more resources.”
The former state education superintendent says she’s working with less collaboration and she says that is hard to get used to. She only answers to the president.
One of the biggest developments for her agency this summer will be a new iPhone application.
You can pull up CPSC, and you can pull up “cribs” and you can see the names and pictures of cribs that have been recalled. And we want to do this -and we will be able to do this for all other products as well. We’re in the planning stages to have that out on the iPhone. One of our main missions is to educate people about defective products. And this will be the easiest way so they can pull up on their iPhone all these products that have been recalled.