Recalls in review: A monthly spotlight on regulatory trends at CPSC.
As children return to class this fall, the CPSC issued a press release reminding parents to “think safety first” when children return to school. Recognizing that many back-to-school caddies also include new clothes and pajamas, we review the CPSC’s regulatory action for children’s sleepwear in this month’s issue of “Recalls in Review.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has regulated the flammability of children’s sleepwear since at least the 1970s. In addition to other safety standards imposed on children’s products, children’s sleepwear is governed by Federal Safety Standards for flammability of children’s sleepwear based on clothing size (16 CFR Part 1615 and 16 CFR Part 1616). The regulation applies to any clothing product, such as nightgowns, pajamas or similar or related items, such as bathrobes, which are intended to be worn primarily for sleeping or for sleep-related activities. Specific items, including diapers, underwear, and certain fitted infant clothing, are exempt from the definition of children’s sleepwear.
The CPSC began to monitor the safety of children’s sleepwear more closely in 2011. At least 82 children’s sleepwear recalls have been issued since 2001, including 77 after 2010. Only a handful of related recalls have been issued. prior to 2001. However, at least 11 civil penalties relating to children’s sleepwear were imposed between 1980 and 2001, with somewhat dated fines ranging from $ 3,500 to $ 850,000.
Recalls related to children’s sleepwear have targeted several types of sleepwear, including traditional pajama sets and separate sets, bathrobes, nightgowns, loungewear and infant sleeping bags. The most commonly recalled type is traditional pajamas, although bathrobes were the second highest category with seventeen percent of all recalls of children’s sleepwear.
According to information provided by CPSC recall announcements, ninety-eight percent of recalls since 2001 relate to the risk of burns posed when the clothing does not meet federal safety standards for flammability. children’s sleepwear. However, a May 2021 recall of an infant sleeping bag dealt with a choking hazard – the neck opening size was too large for the target age group, which could allow the head to a baby to slip in and be covered by the sleeping bag. Another recall of children’s footed pajamas in January 2011 dealt with a choking hazard. The metal snaps that attached a hood to the pajamas could come off and be swallowed by young children.
In particular, the Commission is proactive in monitoring the safety of children’s sleepwear. Although the CPSC is often alerted to product issues through consumer complaints and incident reports, almost all children’s sleepwear recalls are made although no incidents have been reported regarding the product. . Only one of the recalls since 2001, a June 2012 recall of children’s lounge pants and boxers, has reported an incident involving the product, which caught fire.
The most common remedy offered by recalling companies is reimbursement of the purchase price (85% of recalls). Less often, the remedies available may include a choice between a refund or replacement of the product, or only a replacement product. More than half of recalls since 2001 (57%) require consumers to return the product to the recalling company in order to receive their refund or the replacement item. Consumers can watch children’s sleepwear recalls on CPSC.gov or Safer Products.gov for violations of federal flammability standards.
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About recalls under review: As with everything, but especially in retail, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of consumer trends. Regulatory enforcement is no different – it can also be subject to pop culture trends and social media fervor. And this makes sense, because as sales increase for a “trending” product, the likelihood of discovering a product defect or common misuse by consumers also increases. Regulators focus on popular products when monitoring the market for safety concerns.
As lawyers specializing in product safety, we monitor products that may be subject to regulatory attention. We share our observations with you through Review Reminders.