On CPSC 50th Anniversary, Cantwell Highlights Action to Protect Children From Residential Elevator Hazards

October 27, 2022

With Cantwell’s advocacy, more than 100,000 dangerous residential elevators have been recalled

Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, recognized the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the decades of work to protect American consumers from dangerous and deadly products, including this year’s long overdue actions to protect children from hazardous residential elevators.

“For 50 years, the CPSC has protected consumers from dangerous consumer products and saved thousands of children from harm or even death. Parents especially rely on the Commission’s recall alerts and high safety standards to give them confidence in the products their families use every day,” said Sen. Cantwell. “This year’s long overdue action to address residential elevator dangers shows why it’s so important to have a strong and reliable Commission that will order safety fixes before more avoidable tragedies occur.”

Sen. Cantwell has long been a staunch consumer product safety advocate and has pushed for a strong watchdog commission. During last year’s nomination hearing, Sen. Cantwell secured commitments from CPSC nominees that residential elevator safety would be a priority for the agency. 

Since then, the CPSC has increased its residential elevator regulatory efforts by recalling 117,100 elevator products to address a door-trapping hazard, especially in vacation rentals.

CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said during his nomination hearing, “I am pleased to be able to report our progress to hold manufacturers accountable for addressing this hazard, but our work on this issue is far from over.” He continued, “we appreciate Sen. Cantwell’s leadership on this issue, and we look forward to reporting further developments as we work with the vacation rental industry to help keep consumers safe.”

In December 2019, then-Ranking Member Sen. Cantwell released a report on recall failures that highlighted the CSPC’s inaction following the deaths and serious injuries suffered by children in residential elevators. Following a report by the Washington Post earlier that year, Sen. Cantwell called for an independent investigation of the Commission’s repeated failure to act regarding residential elevators. And in July 2021, Sen. Cantwell wrote the Acting CPSC Chair demanding immediate action after another child was killed after becoming trapped in the gap between the doors of a residential elevator at a vacation rental home.

Sen. Cantwell has also voiced concerns over toy recall systems, strollers and space heaters. The Committee passed and later signed into law the Safe Cribs Act to ban hazardous crib bumpers, and recently, the Senate passed the STURDY Act to prevent dangerous furniture tip-overs. Sen. Cantwell also worked to fill the CPSC leadership by overseeing the confirmation process for three President Biden CPSC nominees, Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric, Commissioner Richard Trumka, and the latest addition, Commissioner Mary Boyle.

The CPSC regulates thousands of consumer products, from kitchen appliances to children’s toys to exercise equipment. According to the CPSC, deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. The Consumer Product Safety Act was enacted into law on October 27, 1972, and conducts research on potentially hazardous products and alerts the public by issuing recalls with remedies available to consumers, including repairs, replacement products and refunds.