Beyond the 'pail'

Regulatory reformers on Capitol Hill are fond of citing ludicrous examples of government agencies attempting to regulate away every potential problem. Sometimes these stories are apocryphal.

But one oft-cited tale, though frequently distorted, apparently has validity.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently abandoned its efforts to require bucket manufacturers to redesign their products, a task described by one manufacturer as akin to "reinventing the wheel." Alarmed by reports of toddlers drowning after tumbling into 5-gallon buckets in the late 1980s, CPSC studied the issue for five years, ultimately voting in May 1994 to suggest that buckets be redesigned to reduce the risk.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars later, manufacturers convinced the agency that the proposed new designs created more problems than they solved. Instead, agreement was reached to have manufacturers place warning labels on buckets and spend $500ꯠ over five years publicizing the risk of drowning.

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