By JIM SALTER
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. has agreed to pay a $600,000 civil penalty over allegations that the suburban St. Louis company failed to immediately report a toy defect.
The settlement provisionally agreed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission resolves allegations that Build-A-Bear's toy bear beach chair caused injuries. The commission said sharp edges of the chair's folding wooden frame can pinch, lacerate, even amputate a child's fingertip if the finger is caught between the frame as the chair is folded.
The toy beach chair passed all safety testing in labs accredited by CPSC each year it was sold, Build-A-Bear spokeswoman Jill Saunders said in a statement Tuesday.
Build-A-Bear sold the beach chairs, made in China, at stores and online from March 2001 through October 2008. The commission said the company, based in Overland, Mo., became aware of 10 reports of injuries between July 2007 and January 2009, but did not report to the commission until March 2009.
Saunders said Build-A-Bear didn't receive any reports of injury until after more than 200,000 of the toy beach chairs were sold. She said a majority of the complaints came in late 2008 and early 2009.
"When Build-A-Bear Workshop had sufficient information regarding the injuries associated with the chair in order to determine that the chair might contain a defect, it promptly began working with the CPSC in March of 2009 on the voluntary recall of the toy bear size beach chair," Saunders' statement said.
Federal law requires makers, distributors and retailers to report to CPSC within 24 hours after obtaining information "reasonably supporting the conclusion" that a product is defective and could cause risk of injury or death.
The CPSC and Build-A-Bear announced a recall of about 260,000 beach chairs in May 2009. Saunders said the company decided to issue the recall "because the safety of its guests is a top priority."