Companies to pay $500,000 for not reporting treadmill defects

Friday, October 29th 2004, 9:02 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Taiwanese manufacturer of fitness equipment and a Wisconsin importer have agreed to pay a combined $500,000 to resolve federal allegations that they belatedly told safety officials of problems with their treadmills, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Friday.

From August 2000 to June 2001, Taiwan's Johnson Health Tech Co. had motor control boards made for treadmills to be imported by Horizon Fitness Inc. of DeForest, Wis., the CPSC said. Horizon ended up importing more than 10,000 treadmills with faulty electronic control panels, the agency said.

In the span of a year, the companies received 180 reports of treadmills suddenly accelerating and safety keys malfunctioning. Fifteen injuries were reported, including sprains, bruises and friction burns, according to the CPSC.

Instead of reporting the incidents, the companies tried to solve the defects by redesigning the product three different times, the CPSC said.

Horizon eventually reported the problems in January 2002 and recalled 5,900 treadmills a few months later.

As part of the settlement, both companies deny any defects and deny they violated reporting requirements, the commission said.

Under federal law, companies must inform the CPSC within 24 hours of discovering any product defects that pose injury risks or violate federal safety standards.