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Case Eight: Mattel and Toy Safety

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by Ryan Nix on 15 April 2013

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Transcript of Case Eight: Mattel and Toy Safety

What Had Gone Wrong? I think in the basic sense greed has the most responsibility, but in our capitalist society we hold Mattel responsible. While there is a government agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), tasked with protecting its citizens from consumer products, its effectiveness is lacking simply due to the magnitude of the job. This was a popular opinion as Sally Greenberg from the Consumers Union was quoted with “Never in its history has the CPSC been so challenged as an agency” (p. 536). While there are inherent costs associated with maintaining a quality control mechanism, it is obviously worth the endeavor. Mattel did just that and had a system in place that was stringent in its’ own right, however a weakness was discovered and then exploited by a sub-contractor of a main vendor. It is ultimately Mattel’s responsibility that so many children were exposed to potentially dangerous toys. Regulations in the
US and China Consumers Union
ANSI
Toy Industry Assoc. What might explain the differences in thier points of view?
The differences in the points of view represented by each group show the diversity in the concern of safety in the manufacturing industry. All points of view have a common concern: product safety and how it affects the consumer. Each group shares responsibility in the chain of events; from the factory to store shelf to consumer and in some cases, product recall. The different groups provide protections at different levels throughout the process and no one group wants to be responsible for dropping the ball and losing consumer confidence in product safety, especially toys for children. What do you think is the best way for society to protect children from harmful toys? Specifically, what are the appropriate roles for various stakeholders in this process? Group 8:
Shada Kicinski
Ryan Nix Case Eight:
Mattel and Toy Safety Yes, Mattel showed social and ethical responsibility. The code of conduct that encompassed their overseas factories, contractors and suppliers addressed the use of paint and a list of approved suppliers. This measure was to insure compliance with the company standards. Mattel addressed the issue of lead paint in order to keep it out of its production of toys. Conducting lead safety levels from each batch of production appears to be the most appropriate way to monitor the issue. Mattel could do a few things differently. They could produce their own paint and/or contract one company to produce the paint therefore a vendor would not subcontract a supplier who does not follow lead paint requirements. Who or what do you believe was responsible for the fact that children were exposed to potentially dangerous toys? Why do you think so? There are many opinions for protecting our children from harmful toys. The best way to protect children from harmful toys is to be aware and advocate for continual monitoring of product safety. One idea for consideration, do not buy or make anything in a country that does not have the same level of standards. Another idea is to encourage input from society for ways to make toys safer for children. Society expects the standards to be followed and will speak out on behalf of children when a product requires attention. Society will demand a product be improved or removed. Stakeholders can voice their concerns and demand results; they can question product safety and refuse to patronize a company if their products do not meet expectations. The role of stakeholder is powerful. They are anyone in society who has a vested interest in toy safety and an expectation of a company to stand behind the standards it has establish for product safety. Do you believe that Mattel acted in a socially responsible and ethical manner with regard to the safety of its toys? Why or why not? What should or could Mattel have done differently, if anything? Reference
Lawrence, A.T.., & Weber, J. (2010). Business and Society: Stakeholders, ethics, public policy (13th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0078137150. Consumer Advocates: Standard Setting Organizations This group’s interest in toy safety is by providing better trust and confidence for the consumer since the consumer isn’t able to trust the toy industry or the government to keep children safety. They believe in making federal regulatory testing and inspection mandatory as a way to help keep children’s toys safe. This group feels that it can contribute to the safety of children’s toys by insisting that suppliers must comply with and maintain the rigorous standards and regulations that are in place to protect citizens. They want to make sure the system is improved and regularly evaluated and assessments of who is conducting the evaluations. Consumers should be assured that the products are tested and safe before they are put on the shelf. Government regulators: To ensure the safety of children’s toys, this group is interested in open dialogue with another country’s government, in this case, China. Among many criteria they want good communication, training, efforts to ensure the products are meeting American safety standards, safety systems incorporated into the manufacturing of the products, and to increase surveillance and enforcement activities in order to keep dangerous imports from coming into our country. The Toy Industry: Toy companies believe they are making toys safe by testing the toys and keeping products out of the supply chain that may compromise their safety. They have a mandatory program that includes testing, standard procedures for verifying products conformed to the U.S. safety standards; develop testing methods, and working with government to implement legislation, etc. Children's Product Retailers: Retailers want strong safety measures practiced by manufacturers and the reinforcement of federal legislation. They want to see a strong consumer product safety commission. Retailers also want to see a better production code stamping of products and packaging for easier ability to trace safety issues when they occur. Improving the recall system is important to them, too. What is the best way to ensure the safety of children's toys?
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