The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has ordered nine manufacturers – including three in California — to pay more than $350,000 in civil penalties. According to this Aug. 6 CPSC news release, the fines will basically settle allegations that these companies knowingly failed to report their product defects to the federal agency.

Of these firms, the California based– Cobmex Inc. of Lakewood, Rebelette International Trading Corp. of South El Monte and Siegfried & Parzival Inc. of City of Industry — manufactured hooded sweatshirts, jackets or sweaters sold with drawstrings at the hood and neck, which posed a strangulation hazard that can cause death to children. The firms eventually recalled these defective children products.

In 1996 the CPSC drafted drawstring guidelines in children’s wear to help prevent choking or strangulation after a young girl in Florida died when the drawstrings on her jacket got caught in the school bus door. In May 2006, CPSC’s Office of Compliance announced that children’s jackets and sweatshirts with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as defective and a substantial risk of injury to young children.

Manufacturers, distributors and retailers are required by Federal law to inform CPSC about any product defects that could create a substantial risk of injury to consumers within 24 hours of discovering the defect.

The fines and penalties tacked onto these regulations are meant to act as a deterrent to manufacturers who don’t comply with federal safety standards. But the question is: How often do federal officials catch such violators? Do these financial penalties truly deter defective product manufacturers?

The only way to truly hold these companies accountable for their actions and practices is to hold them financially responsible for the injuries they have caused with their defective products. Paying significant compensation to the affected victims will help motivate these companies to revise their quality control measures to acceptable government sanctioned standards.