With millions of products flooding the market every year, product safety continues to be a very real concern for manufacturers and consumers alike. On Monday, April 8, 2019, ESi Principal Dennis Brickman presented to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about tragic accidents involving residential elevator child entrapment. These elevators have been the subject of significant scrutiny in recent months, and are among a number of products being reviewed by the CPSC and referenced in the Congressional CPSC Oversight Hearing on April 9, 2019.
“It was an honor to be invited to present to them,” said Mr. Brickman. “The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of serious injury or death associated with consumer products. To accomplish their mission, they need insight into how a product works, incidents and injuries connected with the product, and whether a similar accident could be prevented. When a significant safety concern is at stake, a deeper understanding of the risks supports better decisions.”
Building this understanding often requires looking at a variety of complex factors. Was the product defective? Were there issues with the manufacture or design? What are the likely ways a product could be used or operated? Were there adequate safety measures to reduce the risks? If there was an accident, was it preventable?
When a product is used by children, it can also require a different perspective.
“The CPSC consistently recognizes the fact that children are not just small adults. In some situations, there may be risks that are specific to them because of their physiology or stage of development (physical characteristics, abilities, thinking and behavior),” said Mr. Brickman. “In this situation, we performed extensive child testing and were able to share important facts about how and why these tragic accidents occurred, including animations that clearly show what it’s like seeing the elevator through the eyes of a child.”
While it hasn’t always been easy to convey point-of-view in scientific analysis, today’s visualization technologies have helped bridge this critical gap. The animations presented to the CPSC were based on data collected at the scene, and provided a scientifically validated view of what happened. As the CPSC continues to evaluate next steps, this information can be used to determine what actions are needed to reduce the risk of a similar incident happening again.
Mr. Brickman will also be presenting a paper on this topic at the XXXIst Annual International Occupational Ergonomics and Safety Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 12-13, 2019. The paper is titled, “Residential Elevator Child Entrapment Virtual Reality Accident Reconstruction Methodology,” and was co-authored by Dennis Brickman, Erick Knox, Anne Mathias, Lance Rewerts, Jay Lueck and Rodney Brewster.
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