U.S. senator: legislation needed due to inaction by safety regulators
December 9, 2005
MIAMI – Every hurricane season, news stories come from Florida and elsewhere about people injured or killed by poisoning from portable gas generators. In fact, one person was killed and seven were hospitalized near Miami this fall after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes.
What's especially troubling is that federal safety regulators have known for years that people were dying at an increasingly alarming rate, in part, due to inadequate warning labels for generators. Yet the Consumer Product Safety Commission ( CPSC ) continues to let the generator industry police itself. Meantime, according to a newly published report, at least 12 people have died in Florida during the last two busy hurricane seasons from poisoning caused by poorly ventilated generators.
“Every generator ought to have a clearly worded warning label, and an automatic shut-off device,” U.S. Senator Bill Nelson says, pushing new legislation aimed at requiring such on all portable gas generators. “The legislation is needed,” Nelson says, “because safety regulators have refused to act.”
Just last month, Nelson obtained previous studies in which the CPSC found deaths were increasing and generator warning labels were inadequate. In a letter to the current agency head, he asked for an explanation of why there still were voluntary rather than mandatory standards.
In response, Hal Stratton, the chairman of the CPSC, said he was conducting another lengthy study - which prompted Nelson to introduce his legislation. Nelson’s bill would require all portable gas generators to carry a label clearly warning that carbon monoxide fumes can kill; and, direct the CPSC to enact mandatory rules for shut-off switches before carbon monoxide levels became unsafe.