Pandemic had impact on toy safety inspections

Posted at 8:16 PM, Dec 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 23:14:29-05

CAPE CORAL, FLA — Toy safety, has come a long way.

Attorney Kevin Hayslett says it's thanks to government regulations and agencies that have stepped in.

"We've seen a huge change; it was sort of the wild wild west," he said, "If you're a parent there's never been a safer time for them to give a toy to their children than in 2020."

And though we've come so far, like so many things in 2020, even toy safety inspections were impacted by the pandemic.

We've learned that due to COVID-19, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission had to change up its workflow, meaning inspectors were checking toys remotely and even from home, for some time.

"When you start short-cutting it or you start saying 'Well we're going to inspect it from home. Or well last year we had 100 people looking at toys, this year we only got 50.' that does add a layer of uncertainty with the safety of the toys," Hayslett said.

The concern now is that while inspectors were working remotely to stay safe faulty toys could have slipped through the cracks.

But before you panic, Hayslett says you should do this instead:

"If there's a message out there, parents have to be more vigilant," he said.

His biggest piece of advice is to check the suggested age range for toys, as lawyers for personal injury cases often see these injuries:

"Choking hazards are one. The other one we see are facial injuries," he said.

And if your child does get hurt, Hayslett says it doesn't necessarily mean a lawsuit.

"Just because you had a near-death experience almost choked, almost put their eye out, doesn't necessarily mean that a lawyer gets involved. We're looking for, usually, injuries or serious injuries that altered the life of that child," he said.

The U.S. CPSC also sent FOX 4 the following statement:

CPSC, like everyone, had to deal with the life-threatening threat of COVID-19.

  • Protecting the American public from dangerous consumer products, as well as protecting the health and safety of agency staff, are of paramount importance to CPSC during this unprecedented pandemic.
  • Once scarce PPE equipment was finally secured, the agency moved to place inspectors back in the ports. They are now closer to being back in full force.

CPSC implemented creative and effective workarounds to continue to provide consumer protection, in spite of physical displacement of port staff.

  • Throughout the pandemic, the Office of Import Surveillance continued to conduct electronic surveillance of incoming shipments using its risk assessment targeting system. CBP also continued to monitor shipments based on guidance provided by CPSC staff of products of interest.
  • CPSC coordinated closely with CBP at large ports of entry to select shipments for examination. CBP would physically examine products and coordinate with CPSC staff to determine if physical samples were needed for further evaluation. If so, product samples would be sent by CBP to the investigator’s home for further examination.
  • In ports where CBP was unable to dedicate resources to conducting physical exams on our behalf, CPSC staff worked directly with importers to arrange for samples of products to be shipped to the investigator’s home for screening. This process worked well and leveraged CPSC’s excellent relationship with the import community.
  • Import staff continued to educate companies on CPSC requirements with one-on-one virtual trainings. This outreach focuses on educating first-time violators so that future violations can be avoided.
  • Meanwhile, additional agency action continued for consumer protection. Field employees performed virtual in-depth investigations and continued product surveillance and sample collection both on-line and in store. Fast track recalls continued to be processed without any significant delay. A major agency communications campaign has been in full force to alert consumers to hazards in and around the home due to pandemic conditions.

CPSC was transparent as possible without jeopardizing consumer protection by exposing our port strategy to would-be violators.

  • There was a unanimous consensus among Commissioners with this plan, followed by frequent briefings and updates with no voiced disapproval.
  • Agency pandemic response was discussed in informal conversations with various Congressional staff. In hindsight, we should have had a more comprehensive communication with Congress.

The organization also released the following product safety tips:

CPSC’s Holiday Toy Safety Tips

Have FUN this holiday!!

  1. Find out: Check information about the seller. Ensure that the toy has not been banned or recalled. See or
  2. Understand: Take note of safety warnings, information, appropriate age labels.
  3. Notify: Report safety issues to and, where possible, register the toy.

AVOID COUNTERFEITS, scrutinize the product, the packaging and the label.

  1. Look for a certification mark from an independent testing organization and the manufacturer’s label.
  1. If the price seems too good to be true, this could be a sign that the product is counterfeit.

More Detailed Tips

Follow age guidance and other safety information on the toy packaging; and choose toys that match your child's abilities. Some toys may be appealing to children, but the toy may not be appropriate developmentally.

  • Toys have become more sophisticated and other have not. However, deadly toy hazards have remained the same. Children choking on small parts or small balls, falling off a scooter, or riding into traffic are hazards to avoid. Keep small parts away from children under 3; always ensure that your child wears a helmet, and supervise kids on scooters.
  • Ensure stuffed toys have age-appropriate features, such as embroidered or secured eyes and noses for younger children, and seams that are reinforced to withstand an older child’s play.
  • Be careful with magnets and magnetic toys. Loose magnets and high-powered magnet sets are a safety risk to children, including toddlers, tweens and teens. Children have swallowed loose magnets, causing serious intestinal injuries.
  • Always use CPSC’s recall app to check your toy box for recalled toys.

Online Toy Shopping:

  • Know your seller. Purchase toys from stores and online retailers you know and trust.
  • When purchasing toys and games online that contain small parts, balls, marbles and balloons, look for a choking hazard warning statement on the firm’s advertising page about these products.


CPSC works with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the ports. If we find a counterfeit product, we turn it over to CBP, which has jurisdiction over counterfeits.
Safety Tips:

  • If a product’s price seems too good to be true, it may be counterfeit. Don’t buy it.
  • Be extra vigilant when buying from an unknown seller. It’s best to buy products like bicycle helmets directly from the manufacturer when shopping online, or buy from a big-box store or bicycle shop.
  • Scrutinize the product, the packaging and the label. Look for a certification mark from an independent testing organization and the manufacturer’s label. Consumers should look for misspellings and grammatical errors. These are also a sign that a product may be counterfeit.
  • Look at reviews of the seller and the seller’s products.