Unstable Refuse Bins Continue As Serious Hazard

June 13, 1979
Release Number: 79026

Amidst increased federal inspections nationwide of dangerous refuse bins, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received another report of a serious injury caused by such a trash container.

A seven-year-old boy reportedly was placing trash in a refuse bin that tipped over onto him June 1st in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The youth remains unconscious and in critical condition at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

CPSC Philadelphia area office officials are investigating the accident and inspecting other bins in the Lebanon area that might violate a ban enacted almost one year ago. The Commission banned unstable refuse bins June 13, 1978, and ordered trash collectors to retrofit bins that could tip over easily.

A 1978 survey, however, revealed that approximately 40 percent of the nation's one-half million refuse bins had not been stabilized. "In many areas we are finding a total disregard for the regulations which ban unstable refuse bins," reports an official of the Commission.

The Commission official added that, "We have ordered additional refuse bin test kits and have enlisted the support of the states and local governments to assist us in enforcing the ban." CPSC has secured the aid of state and local inspectors to help test bins.

With the arrival of summer vacations, the Commission urges parents to warn their children not to play on or near refuse bins. Since 1971, at least 21 children have died from broken necks, crushed chests and skulls when unstable bins fell on them.

Trash collectors and refuse bin manufacturers who violate the ban can be fined up to $2,000 for each unsafe refuse bin violating the law. The Commission may seek criminal penalties of as much as $50,000 and/or one year in jail for willful non-compliance after notice. CPSC already has taken legal action against several firms to stop the use of unstable bins.