May 28, 2015 — The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has ordered (PDF) Office Depot to pay $3.4 million for failing to report safety defects on over 1.5 million office chairs that have been linked to at least 38 serious injuries.
The injuries occurred when the seat-backs broke off from the base of the chair, causing consumers to fall. Some victims had back injuries or required medical attention, according to the CPSC. Unfortunately, the incidents were not reported for about a decade. By that time, over 1.5 million chairs were sold.
Office Depot received 25 reports of injuries linked to the Gibson Leather Task Chair and another 13 injuries from the Quantum Realspace Pro 9000 Series Mid-Back Multifunction Mesh Chairs.
About 1.4 million of the Gibson chairs were sold from 2003 to 2012. The first report of a seat-back detachment resulting in an injuries was in 2005. At least 153 incidents involving broken chairs were ultimately reported to Office Depot. The chairs were recalled on May 22, 2014.
About 150,000 of the Quantum chairs were sold from May 2006 to August 2009. The first injury report was received by Office Depot in 2007. The following year, the manufacturer updated the design to help prevent the problem. At least 33 incidents occurred by 2009. The chairs were recalled in October 2009.
The Consumer Product Safety Act requires companies to tell the government about safety defects within 24 hours of receiving an injury report. Unfortunately, the CPSC says Office Depot did not tell them about problems with the Quantum chair, and only reported problems with the Gibson chair after an inquiry.
Office Depot has not admitted wrongdoing, but has agreed to participate in a compliance program designed to help increase the odds that safety defects are reported to the CPSC in a timely manner in the future.
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