CPSC Sues to Recall Probe Worm Due to Eloctrocution Hazard

February 29, 1988
Release Number: 88009

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, today announced that it has filed an administrative Complaint against P&M Enterprises, Caldwell, Idaho, seeking a nationwide recall of that firm's WORM GETT'R worm probes due to an alleged electrocution hazard. The vote on the decision to issue the Complaint was 3 to 1, with Commissioners Carol Dawson and Anne Graham voting for and Chairman Terrence Scanlon dissenting.

 

The device, when plugged into an electric outlet, is intended to drive worms to the surface of the earth by delivering electricity into the soil.

The Commission, an independent federal agency charged with protecting consumers from unreasonable risks of injury, alleges that the design of the worm probes exposes users to bare metal shafts charged with 720 volts of electricity. While the CPSC is not aware of any deaths or injuries attributable to the P&M probes, it is aware of 23 deaths caused by other similarly designed worm probes. Eight of the deaths occurred between 1971 and 1980 and the other 15 occurred since 1980. Thirteen of these deaths were to children.

P&M has sold approximately 30,000 WORM GETT'R worm probes over the past five years.' The probes consist of steel shafts inserted into light colored, tapered, bare wood handles. The shafts are connected with 20 inches of 14 gauge insulated wire between each shaft. The wire is connected to one blade of an attached male plug 20 inches from the first shaft. WORM GETT'Rs were sold with two probes, six probes or twelve probes and have a manufacturer's suggested retail price of about $8.00, $19.00 and $30.00 respectively.

No identifying marks appear on the product itself. The words "WORM GETT'RS" and "P&M Enterprises" appear on the cardboard header portion of the product's packaging. The probes were sold for sporting goods and fishing stores and catalogues were offered by-some K-mart stores.

The Complaint filed by the federal safety agency is like a civil lawsuit brought on behalf of U.S. consumers asking an administrative law judge to order the firm to stop making the dangerous probes and to recall those already sold.

The CPSC asks anyone who has been injured, or knows of persons who have been injured or killed by any type of worm probe, to contact its toll free hotline by calling 1-800-638-CPSC. A teletypewriter number for the hearing impaired is (301) 595-7054.