WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission promised swift action to get dangerous products off the market, after acknowledging Tuesday that it didn't move quickly enough on a record recall of more than 2 million cribs linked to four deaths.
"We were not advancing this case as quickly as possible," Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in an interview with The Associated Press. "So, I put all of the resources for the agency on this project so that they could accomplish this goal of recalling the crib."
At issue are some 2.1 million drop-side cribs made by Stork Craft Manufacturing of Canada. Four infants suffocated in the cribs.
CPSC said the recall involves 1.2 million cribs in the United States and almost 1 million in Canada, where Stork Craft is based. Sales of the cribs being recalled date back to 1993 and nearly 150,000 of the cribs carry the Fisher-Price logo.
Drop-side cribs have one side that moves up and down to allow parents, especially shorter adults, to lift children from the cribs more easily. There have been 110 incidents of the drop-side detaching from the Stork Craft cribs, according to the agency.
In the case of Stork Craft and other drop-side cribs, the hardware used to put the crib together can break, deform or become missing after years. There also can be problems with assembly mistakes by the crib owner.
Parents often take the crib apart after one child has grown out of it, and then reassemble the crib later for another baby - and that can lead to parts that aren't assembled properly. The hardware and misassembly problems can cause the drop-side to detach, creating a dangerous V-like space between the drop-side and the crib mattress, where a child can become trapped and suffocate.
Consumer advocates have complained for years about drop-side cribs. More than 5 million of them have been recalled over the past two years alone - recalls that were associated with the deaths of a dozen young children.
CPSC is considering mandatory standards for crib design. Given the history of troubles with drop-sides, Tenenbaum said there is a compelling reason to ban the cribs altogether. If she had a baby, she said she would not put the infant in a drop-side crib.
She advised parents with drop-sides in their homes to check the hardware; make sure it's not cracked or missing. For people with Stork Craft drop-sides, they can request a free repair kit that converts the drop-side into a fixed or immovable side.
The Stork Craft cribs were manufactured and distributed between January 1993 and October 2009. They were sold at major retailers including BJ's Wholesale Club, Sears and Wal-Mart stores and online through Target and Costco. They sold for between $100 and $400, and were made in Canada, China and Indonesia.
This is the second big recall this year for the company. It recalled about 500,000 cribs in January because of problems with the metal brackets that support the mattress. Some of the same models in the earlier recall were also part of the new recall, CPSC said.
Calls to Stork Craft were not returned Tuesday.
ASTM International, an organization that sets voluntary industry safety standards for everything from toys to the steel used in commercial buildings, approved a new standard last week that requires four immovable, or fixed, sides for full-size cribs - a big step toward eliminating the manufacture of new drop-side cribs since the industry group won't certify them.
Toys"R'Us started phasing out drop-side cribs earlier this year and will no longer carry them next month.
Consumers can contact Stork Craft, 877-274-0277, to order the free repair kit, or log on to www.storkcraft.com.