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CPSC: Many Companies Not Reporting When Products Hurt Consumers

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Are companies putting you and your family at risk? They’re supposed to report to the Consumer Product Safety Commission when they are told of someone being injured using something they made.

But as CBS 2′s Susan Carlson reports, more companies are being fined by the government for not reporting problem products.

“It went slamming into my shin and went right through my jeans.”

Bob Dolan was one of 158 people injured by a now recalled weed cutter. The feds say the manufacturer “knowingly failed to report several safety hazards.

As a result, it received a fine of just under $1 million.

“It’s pretty upsetting when I hear that they just kind of ignored it,” Dolan said.

In 2010, two companies were fined for not reporting safety defects. Last year, it went up to 10 companies, and the fines totaled more than $4 million.

The 10 companies fined last year included manufacturers of defective buggies, high-end refrigerators, exercise equipment, office equipment, and drawstring sweatshirts.

“Companies struggle with when to report to the CPSC,” said attorney Christie Grymes Thompson.

She said companies weigh questions like: was a consumer misusing something, and is there a pattern?

But Scott Wolfson of the CPSC says, “If in doubt, report.”

The CPSC is also calling on consumers to let it know about product problems, and it wants manufacturers to know it’s watching and counting.

“If they are putting the health and safety of consumers at risk and keeping that information from us, they can really be held liable,” said Wolfson.

And Bob Dolan adds, “It really behooves companies to take care of these problems on their own as quickly as possible.”

The CPSC says, when you report problems, you could actually be helping to save lives and prevent injuries.

You can report unsafe products by clicking here.

You can also check out links to recalled products and settlement notices for Dolan’s weed cutter below:

Black & Decker Recalls Trimmers/Edgers Due to Laceration Hazard from Projectiles

Increasing Injuries Prompt Black & Decker to Reannounce Recall of Trimmers/Edgers Due to Laceration and Burn Hazards

Black & Decker Agrees to $960,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Defective Grasshog XP Weed Trimmer/Edgers

Black & Decker Settlement Agreement

These are links to the fines and recall notices:

Bad Boy Enterprises Agrees to $715,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Defective Buggies

Sunsations Agrees to $60,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Drawstrings in Children’s Sweatshirts

Perfect Fitness to Pay $425,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Fall Injury Hazard with Exercise Equipment

CVS Agrees to $45,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Drawstrings in Children’s Jackets

Macy’s Agrees to Pay $750,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Drawstrings in Children’s Outerwear

Viking Range Corporation Agrees to $450,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Defective Refrigerators

Ms. Bubbles Agrees to Pay $40,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Drawstrings on Children’s Jackets

Raynor Marketing Agrees to $390,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Defective Office Chairs

Winter Bee Agrees to $200,000 Civil Penalty for Failing to Report Drawstrings in Children’s Sweatshirts

Click here for a link to the Consumer Product Safety Act