Federal regulators have hit Black & Decker with a nearly $1 million civil penalty for not reporting injuries and problems with Grasshog XP weed trimmers.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on August 3 that it has reached a settlement with Black & Decker over allegations that the company waited about five months in 2006 to report that the Grasshog trimmer was defective and might cause harm to consumers.
Ultimately there were 158 injuries reported in connection to the Black & Decker Grasshog weed trimmers. About 200,000 of the units were eventually subject to a Black & Decker Grasshog XP recall.
According to the CPSC, Black & Decker first received reports that the Grasshog XP’s spool, spool cap and pieces of trimmer string could come loose during use and become projectiles by May 2006 at the latest. However, the company did not report problems with the high-powered electric trimmer to the CPSC, including injury reports, until October 2006.
Manufacturers, distributors and retailers are required by federal law to immediately give the CPSC any information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product fails to meet federal standards or is defective and carries a substantial risk of causing injury or death.
By the time a Black & Decker Grasshog XP model GH10000 trimmer recall was announced in July 2007 there were 700 reports of incidents, with 58 people suffering laceration and burn injuries. The recall had to be reannounced in August 2009 because enough of the devices were still on the market to cause an additional 100 injuries during that time frame.
Black & Decker has agreed to pay $960,000 to settle the civil penalty, but the company still denies allegations that it covered up the risk of harm to consumers from the defective trimmers. The CPSC voted 5-0 to approve the settlement.