Because of an editing error, a quotation in a Federal Report article about the Consumer Product Safety Commission yesterday was incorrectly attributed. CPSC Chairman Terrence M. Scanlon said that if he really intended to focus the agency's work on information and education, he would abolish the CPSC's compliance section. "That's stronger than ever," he said.
Safety problems reported with all-terrain vehicles continue to occupy a good part of the Consumer Product Safety Commission's attention these days.
The agency is about to hold the fourth of five public hearings around the country to examine the safety risks associated with the motorized three-wheel, tricycle-like vehicles that are designed for off-road use.
At least 233 people have died in accidents involving all-terrain vehicles from 1982 through June 20, 1985, the commission said, and at least 150,000 more have had to visit hospital emergency rooms. Nearly one-fourth of the injuries involved children under 12, and 50 percent of the accidents involved young people under 16.
By 1986, the commission estimates that 2.5 million all-terrain vehicles will be in use nationwide. As of January 1985, 1.8 million had been sold here.
The next hearing will be held Sept. 3 in Milwaukee and Sen. Robert W. Kasten (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on the consumer, will testify. Wisconsin ranks second this year in the number of deaths associated with the vehicles, a Kasten staffer said.
PROGRESS ON NOMINATIONS . . . Shortly after it returns from the August recess, the Commerce Committee is expected to hold its confirmation hearings on Terrence M. Scanlon, who is serving a recess appointment as chairman of the commission, and Anne Graham, assistant secretary of Education for legislation and public affairs, sources said.
In the meantime, Scanlon and Commissioner Stuart M. Statler continue to duel over the proper direction of the agency. Statler said that there was "a major confrontation and quite a flare-up" last week between the two of them during budget negotiations.
"Terry wants to move the agency toward being simply an information and educational agency and away from being a regulatory watchdog doing basic hazard analysis and engineering and design work to make the products themselves safer," Statler said. "His thrust is to make people behave differently. My approach is to build safety into the products."
In response, Scanlon said, "Once again, Stuart is whistling in the wind without the benefit of accurate facts or good analysis."
Stuart added that if he really intended to focus on information and education he would abolish the agency's compliance section, which enforces safety standards. "That's stronger than ever," he said.
CHAIN SAW REGULATION . . . The commission's decision earlier this month not to set safety standards for chain saws marks the end of an eight-year-old agency project.
The commission voted 3 to 0 to accept its staff recommendation that it drop its effort to write mandatory safety regulations for the saws. Voluntary rules established by the chain saw industry already cover 90 percent of the saws being sold and should prove effective in reducing injuries, the staff said.
The commission estimates that in 1982, the most recent year for which statistics are available, about 120,000 injuries were related to chain saws, including 220,000 that occurred when the saws kicked back.
The saws can kick back when the chain catches at the tip of the blade. This can cause the saw to jump up and backwards with great force and can result in serious arm, head or shoulder injuries.
Chain brakes, tip guards and improved chains are increasingly common, and chain saw manufacturers have developed detailed voluntary safety codes for their products, the commission staff said.
Scanlon said the voluntary standard is a model for other industries. He estimated that the industry has spent about $10 million to develop its standard -- or about double what the commission had invested in its rule-making effort.
But John Purtle of Batesville, Ark., a lawyer who got the commission to investigate the problem after he became alarmed over the number of injuries he encountered among farmers and his firm's clients, said: "I feel like we need government standards. Anything relating to safety and health, you need uniform federal standards."