Database for dangerous products is under fire

  • Updated: April 16, 2011 - 4:28 PM

Launched last month, the federal government's new publicly searchable database for dangerous products, www.saferproducts.gov, has already run into political turbulence.

The database lists manufacturer recalls of defective products, but its real innovation is providing public access to citizen reports of injuries, fires, explosions, shocks or other dangerous malfunctions.

Manufacturers are given 10 days to respond to reports before the Consumer Product Safety Commission puts complaints on the website. Companies have raised enough of a stink about potential false reports besmirching their products that a Republican-sponsored bill to defund the $3 million database passed the House in February, the Washington Post reported last week.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, also tried in vain to include the measure as a policy rider in the budget bill, the Post reported. He is vowing to continue his effort to restrict the database.

The database gives new insight into how companies respond to claims that their products are dangerous.

"My daughter's DaVinci Roxanne crib by Million Dollar Baby broke while she was in it," a March 22 report said. "The drop side came loose on one side, and her arm got caught in it."

The manufacturer's April 8 response: All drop-side cribs were recalled in 2010, and a repair kit was sent to the consumer.

Another consumer who bought a bike from Target in Florida reported: "The pedal came out of its socket, and the jagged threading protruding out of the bicycle tore into her leg [calf]. This resulted in a laceration large enough to require seven stitches ..."

The lengthy response from Dynacraft indicated the bicycle was 10 years old and had sat untouched for many years, strongly suggesting "the incident resulted from the recommended maintenance described in the manual not being done."

Copied driver's licenses

A number of Whistleblower readers, highly sensitive to identity theft, think some businesses are taking too many liberties with their driver's licenses. One reader in Crystal was disturbed to see certain merchants demand driver's licenses from customers and then make photocopies for their records.

"There's no law against it," said Kristine Chapin, a spokeswoman for the Driver and Vehicle Services Division. Chapin said her agency gets the occasional query and tells people there's also no requirement they hand over their license when a business asks for it.

Chapin said a more common problem involves people carrying their license and Social Security card. If they're stolen, it's a "deadly sure fire combination to get you in trouble," she said.

COMPILED BY THE WHISTLEBLOWER TEAM

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