"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy." - Indian author Rabindranath Tagore
It has been a joy to serve as the Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission during the past four and a half years. There were trying times, of course, but it was a joy to see the results of our hard work.
To all of the moms and dads, consumers and stakeholders, I can proudly tell you that we got the job done. And, because we got the job done, children and consumers came out as the winners.
In July 2009, just weeks after arriving at the agency, I went on national TV and announced that for the first time CPSC was going to enforce an important child safety law. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was signed by President Bush in 2007, and it aimed to prevent drownings and drain entrapments. I made it clear that no public pool or spa could open unless it installed safer drain covers and complied with the law.
Over the years, I was honored to work with the law's advocates Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Nancy Baker, as well as Karen Cohn and Katey Taylor. Together, we honored Graeme, Zachary, and Abigail by using the law to make tens of thousands of pools safer. Since 2008, no child in the United States has died because of a pool or spa drain entrapment.
December 15, 2010 was a key moment in the history of consumer product safety and one of my proudest days as Chairman. On that day, I stood with Michelle McNanamara-Witte, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to announce that the Commission had approved a rule creating the strongest crib safety standard in the world.
After 11 million cribs had been recalled and dozens of precious children had been taken from their parents too son, including Michelle's son Tyler, we corrected a major safety lapse from prior years. We even overcame a last minute attempt to delay the vote by Republican members of the Commission. We persevered, got the job done, and children can sleep safer in the cribs used in childcare center centers and for sale today.
On October 20, 2011, we kept up our momentum and passed the capstone requirement of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). During the "year of the recall" in 2007, parents and grandparents called on Congress to repair the hole in our nation's product safety net by insisting that children's products be independently tested.
On that exciting day in 2011, CPSC passed an independent testing rule and made our product safety net one the best in the world. In the audience, I can remember seeing the smile on the face of Charley Pereira as I announced that the rule had passed. Charley's beautiful daughter Savannah had died a year earlier, after she was strangled by the cord of a baby monitor.
Charley urged the agency to honor the memory of Savannah and get the job done. We did. And today, there are more than 425 testing labs around the world that CPSC has approved to make sure toys and children's products pass our rigorous safety standards, before they reach store shelves.
Then on June 29, 2012, we proved once again that CPSC stands for safety. I remember standing outside of the U.S. Capitol on that warm and sunny day, joined by the inspiring Linda Ginzel and Nancy Cowles, and fellow champion of children Rep. Jan Schakowsky. With tears and pride, we announced that CPSC had approved a new federal safety standard for play yards.
In my office, I displayed a photo of a smiling Danny Keysar. In 1988, Danny was tragically killed in a previously recalled play yard at his childcare center, after his neck was trapped in a collapsed side rail. Danny's parents, Linda Ginzel and Boaz Keysar, worked for the next 14 years to turn tragedy into advocacy. They formed Kids In Danger, hired Nancy Cowles to run the organization, and teamed up with Rep. Schakowsky to write Danny's Law into the CPSIA.
The legacy of Danny's Law will last for decades, as parents purchase juvenile products that meet new and improved safety standards. These standards will prevent drownings in bath seats, falls from infant carriers, finger amputations from strollers, and entrapments in bed rails.
All of these moments will stay with me long after I leave the agency, because they are symbolic of the good we did, the promises we fulfilled, and the lives we saved.
We have come a long way since I first took over the reins of CPSC. We are no longer operating in a state of crisis; instead, we have become a proactive regulator. We took safety to the source in China and turned CPSC into the global leader in consumer product safety.
It has been a great honor to serve the President, the agency, and American consumers. I have met and worked alongside so many talented and special people during my travels. Special thanks to the staff at CPSC for their hard work, countless accomplishments and tireless commitment to the mission.
As my time at CPSC comes to a close, I have a request of each of you: connect with CPSC. Log on to http://saferproducts.gov to report or search for product incident reports. Sign up to receive emails about recalls or follow the agency on social media. Let your friends and family know that newer is safer when it comes to children's products.
This is a time when the American consumer is being well represented by CPSC and is being better protected by a global system of safety that is getting stronger. Together, we are building a product safety system that is built to last so that future generations of children and other consumers have an even greater level of safety.
Follow Inez Moore Tenenbaum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/OnSafety