Tax breaks for big oil when gas is 4 bucks a gallon? – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

Oil executives earlier this month testified before Congress that they don’t think they should have to lose their $2.1 billion in tax breaks just because they are making record profits. One exec even claimed ending oil company subsidies would be “discriminatory.” Testifying were execs at Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips. Collectively these companies racked up $35 billion in first quarter profits and will set record profits for the year.

Excuse me, but gas is well over $4 a gallon for most working Americans. This prompts two questions. First, why must the oil companies charge us so much at the pump if they are making record profits? Secondly, why in the heck should the American taxpayer be subsiding oil company profits?

In mid-May the Senate blocked a Democratic bill to repeal $21 billion in tax breaks and apply the savings to deficit reduction. The 52-48 vote was eight shy of the 60 votes needed to advance a bill that would nix incentives for ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and BP, according to The Hill.

But good for New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. He is a sponsor of the bill to end oil subsidies and at the hearing he took ConocoPhillips’ top dog to task for calling the bill “un-American.”  The exec refused to apologize and that is how things were left. But the fact remains that there is no justification at all for asking average Americans to pay twice for their gas – once at the pump and again by subsidizing the oil companies through tax breaks.

NCL: Americans deserve a strong CFPB led by a consumer champion – National Consumers League

May 27, 2011

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer organization, today announced its intention to support the appointment of Professor Elizabeth Warren as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

“The long-term viability of the CFPB is essential in order to protect consumers from those who would engage in predatory behavior in the financial services industry,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the League.

“NCL calls on lawmakers to reject several recent proposals to weaken the agency’s ability to protect consumers and to support the appointment of a strong director to lead the agency,” said Greenberg.

NCL supports the appointment of a strong consumer advocate to direct the CFPB. There is no more capable individual to lead the bureau than its current head, Elizabeth Warren. Professor Warren is a long-time consumer champion and the CFPB itself is her brainchild. Her permanent appointment and confirmation by the Senate is long overdue.

The League also believes that the Dodd-Frank Act provides for sufficient oversight of the agency. Under the Act, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) can veto any decision made by the CFPB with a two-thirds majority vote. If H.R. 1315 becomes law, the same regulatory body that was so lax in overseeing the loan and credit card practices of banks that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis will be able to override the CFPB with a simple majority. Giving the FSOC more power over the CFPB would place power in the hands of those who have a poor track record of preventing financial crises.

Finally, NCL believes the CFPB needs a single director to act effectively. H.R. 1121 seeks to replace the director of the CFPB with a board of five commissioners. Such a politicized leadership structure is unnecessary given the many statutory restrictions on the CFPB’s power.

Professor Elizabeth Warren and a strong CFPB are very much needed to protect consumers from the predatory practices of certain industry actors that brought the nation’s economy to the brink of ruin. Professor Warren has stated time and again her belief that regulation is best used when there is no better alternative. Existing oversight authority is more than adequate to prevent the CFPB from abusing its mandate. Just as importantly, the ability of the agency to protect consumers in a robust manner without undue political interference must be preserved.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

The missing piece – National Consumers League

By Ayrianne Parks, Communications Director, Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, and Reid Maki, Coordinator, Child Labor Coalition

This past Sunday, 60 Minutes focused much needed attention on the issue of child labor in U.S. agriculture. The piece, which may have seemed balanced to the average viewer, failed to convey the dangers child farmworkers are exposed to, including toxic pesticides, razor-sharp tools, and the educational harm that they suffer.

The show’s segment called, “The debate on child labor,” focused mostly on agricultural economics from the perspective of a migrant farmworker family and a grower—both struggling to get by. However, this is an issue that existed far before the recession. Farmworkers make an average of $10,000 to $12,000 annually with no benefits. These extremely low wages in farm work, often compel parents to bring their very young children to work in agriculture, an environment most—including the father interviewed—hope their children will have the opportunity to escape in adulthood to pursue their dreams. The grower interviewed pointed out that Americans want cheap produce and that comes at a price paid by the sweat and toil of laborers.

Byron Pitts, who reported on the issue, also interviewed Norma Flores López, AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign Program Director and Domestic Issues Chair of the Child Labor Coalition. Several months ago, when 60 Minutes filmed its interview of Flores López, a former migrant farmworker child herself, she spoke in detail about the educational and health consequences of child labor. While most of her concerns did not make it into the show, 60 Minutes did post some of her comments on their Web site, but it is likely few Americans will see them. The average viewer who watched the show will come away with the impression that plucky farmworker kids will survive their years of child labor without suffering many negative consequences. Some do, most do not.

When Byron Pitts asked a large group of farmworker kids how many of them planned to go to college, each of them raised a hand. Having worked in the same South Texas fields as the kids, Norma Flores López knows well that few migrant kids are able to overcome the exhaustion of working 10-14 hours days or the obstacles that accompany missing school and changing schools, because their family is constantly migrating.

The sad truth is that most migrant kids do not even make it through high school. Federal data on this is horrible, but if you talk to migrant educators they will tell you that the dropout rate in many migrant communities ranges from 50 to 80 percent.

Farmworker children pay a high price, often sacrificing their education and health, for the very little amount they actually earn by working in the fields. We are thankful to 60 Minutes for helping bring attention to the very real problem of child labor in America and we hope that those who watched the piece will continue to educate themselves, their families, friends, and communities on the inequity of U.S. child labor law which—for reasons that are unclear to many of us—allows impoverished Latino children to sacrifice their futures for what often amounts to subminimum wages. For more information on child labor in the U.S. please visit or

Charting a course toward safer table saws – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

In the United States each year, 40,000 users of table saws sustain serious injuries; 10 percent of those injuries are amputations, and that number is up approximately 10,000 injuries over the past decade. The injuries are painful, traumatic, and life-altering events for victims and their families. But what is hard to believe is that, as all of these grave injuries that are racked up year in and year out, there’s been a foolproof, highly effective technology to prevent 99 percent these injuries available since 2003. The only problem is that the conventional sawmakers have refused to adopt the safety technology.

That’s not surprising. In my work in product safety industries often resist adopting available and affordable safety devices that protect their customers. The reasons are varied, but none are defensible in my view – if there’s a safety technology to protect people from such terrible injuries as finger amputations and arms nearly sliced in half (and grisly deaths, I might add. There are a number of those too in the database – I’ve seen the pictures) and it’s affordable, it should be adopted as soon as possible. Imagine arguing that its not needed or wanted by consumers. I cannot.

I learned about the epidemic of table saw injuries in 2004 when I heard a story by National Public Radio’s Chris Arnold. At the time I was senior product safety counsel at Consumers Union and passionately working to get dangerous products removed from the market. I was shocked – both at the harrowing injury statistics and that the makers of the safety technology had no luck getting any of the saw manufacturers to license the safe saw design. I figured once this story ran, the Consumer Product Safety Commission would take up the issue and require the table saw safety technology on its own accord.

How wrong I was. Last summer I heard Chris Arnold’s follow-up story, six years after the first one; I learned to my shock and horror that the safety technology has never been adopted while table saw injuries have been climbing over a ten-year period. We consulted NCL policy on product safety, adopted in 2000, and it is crystal clear and touches every important aspect of this issue:

  • NCL supports strong and effective government regulatory and enforcement agencies to assure safety of services and products used by consumers and the environment in which they are used.
  • NCL believes that corporations have a responsibility to assure that safety and universal design be built into product and service design.
  • NCL supports consumer education and information to teach safe behavior but recognizes that consumer education is never an acceptable substitute for quality safety standards and careful design and production;
  • NCL urges that diligent enforcement of safety standards be carried out by private as well as public groups;
  • NCL encourages prompt gathering of injury data by the public and private sectors in order to identify trends, inform consumers, and take appropriate actions to address safety concerns.

In consultation with our Board of Directors, NCL wrote in November of last year to the five commissioners at the Consumer Product Safety Commission urging them to begin the regulatory process toward a mandatory safety performance standard for table saws that is technology neutral – which means not endorsing any one technololgy. Such a safety standard dictates what the result must be – safety in using the product during regular use – not how you get there. Then, in February of this year, USA Today featured an article on the hazards of table saws, which prompted CPSC Commissioner Bob Adler to bring the makers of the safe saw, SawStop, into Washington for a meeting. The industry representatives, the Power Tool Institute, also presented to Commissioner Adler, arguing they couldn’t adopt the technology because it too expensive to implement especially in the smaller saws.

Sally Greenberg speaks to reporters about table saw dangers at the National Press Club on May 25.

In the latest development, this week NCL escorted four men from three different states around Washington. Each of them had personal interactions with table saw injuries – three had serious injuries themselves, including amputations and a mangled right arm that may never function normally, and one owned a cabinetmaking shop where two of his workers had their hands maimed by the saws; three of them knew about the safety technology when they bought their saws; two couldn’t afford a higher-end saw (and ran small businesses on the side while holding other jobs,) and the shop owner had tried to buy two saws before they were on the market. They are all deeply sorry they didn’t have safe saws.

We visited four of the five CPSC Commissioners, a number of senators and several members of the House of Representatives. At the end of this grueling three days, these guys – who had never met before this week, were like brothers. They heard one another’s stories time and time again and all were asking that all table saws sold in the United States be subject to a mandatory safety standard.

We got positive feedback from the Chairman of the CPSC, Inez Tenenbaum, who told us she believes they have the votes to open an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. That very important regulatory process is the first move toward a mandatory standard, if one is to be adopted.

And we are ready for the predictable resistance from industry – but that ship has sailed. NCL will invite 100 victims of saw accidents to come to Washington if need be – and with them, pictures of their bloody and painful injuries. They all have a story to tell – about dreams destroyed, careers ruined, livelihoods in jeopardy, being forced to go on welfare, food stamps, and energy assistance because they can’t make a living – and the constant pain and suffering they endure because of one millisecond slip into the blade of a table saw. All the while, they could have been kept safe by currently available technology. Once the real story gets out, no one will be able to argue that making the most dangerous product in the workshop the safest isn’t a cause worth fighting for – and winning.

NCL, injury victims call on CPSC to mandate new national safety performance standard for table saws – National Consumers League

May 25, 2011

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC — The National Consumers League and victims of brutal table saw injuries today called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to take immediate, decisive steps to set a new, more protective national safety performance standard for table saws.

The move comes as a new CPSC report documents the number of annual table saw injuries is up by 10,000 a year since 2001[1]. Meanwhile, a petition asking CPSC to set a national safety performance standard has been languishing at the Commission since 2003[2].

“Table saws present an unacceptable risk of severe injury,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “Each year, tens of thousands of people are brutally injured by table saws – including 4,000 amputations – at a cost of more than $2 billion a year to treat victims. This is a major public health and safety issue that cries out for a public policy response.”

Several victims of life-altering injuries and amputations joined NCL in issuing the call to action on CPSC, saying government has a responsibility to mandate that new, safer technologies be used on table saws. To learn more about these victims, the impact of their injuries on their livelihoods and families, and view photos of their injuries, visit

Table saws are inherently dangerous and most table saws on the market lack an adequate safety system to protect consumers from accidental contact with the blade, said Greenberg. “The vast majority of table saw manufacturers haven’t changed their technology in 50 years, despite the 40,000 injuries each year. Current safety technology basically consists of plastic guards, which are usually removed because they make it difficult to use the saws effectively.” In a 2006 report, CPSC staff said the current table saw safety standard does not adequately address blade contact hazard[3].

“Safer-saw technology is available on the market today,” said Greenberg. “Made by a company called SawStop, this technology stops the saw from operating in milliseconds if the blade comes into contact with human flesh by sensing an electrical impulse, preventing serious accidents and often resulting in the user getting nothing more than a nick.

“If a start-up company like SawStop can do it, why can’t well-heeled top manufacturers such as Craftsman, Black & Decker, Ryobi and Dewalt adopt or develop new technologies to prevent grave injuries and amputations from table saws? According to the CPSC, the SawStop technology would increase the cost of table saws by about $100 per saw — a small price to pay to save a finger.”

This cost stands in stark contrast to the cost of injuries for a victim of a table saw accident. A group of doctors led by hand surgeon Dr. Alexander Shin at the Mayo Clinic conducted a study in 2009 of 134 patients who suffered table saw injuries. They found the mean cost of medical expenses for all patients was $30,754 per injury, including lost wages[4]. The state of Utah thought it was so important for teenagers in woodworking classes to use safer technology saws that it purchased the safer SawStop saws for all public schools.

“We are urging CPSC to begin the process to set a national safety standard for table saws,” said Greenberg. “The standard should require industry to adopt current technology or develop new technology to prevent grave injuries and amputations from table saws.”

A petition asking CPSC to set a performance standard has been stalled since 2003. A 2006 CPSC staff report to the Commission in response to the petition shows a positive cost-benefit analysis to setting a national performance standard for table saws, and recommends granting the petition and proceeding with a rulemaking process that could result in a mandatory safety standard for table saws to reduce the risk of blade contact injury[5]. CPSC voted in 2006 to start the regulatory process, but no action was ever taken. In early 2011, manufacturers of safer saw technologies were invited to present their positions at a CPSC public meeting, but no additional action has been taken.

“Each day we wait for CPSC to act, 10 new amputations occur,” said Greenberg. “We’re throwing away 4,000 fingers each year when safer-saw technology exists. The time for action is now.”

# # #

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit


[2] ;




Table saw accidents preventable with technology improvements – National Consumers League

Did you know that each year, tens of thousands of people are brutally injured by table saws – including 4,000 amputations – at a cost of more than $2 billion a year to treat victims? This just in: CPSC, in a unanimous 5-0 vote on October 5, 2011, decided to move forward with an ANPR regarding a national table saw safety standard. Click here to view NCL’s press release hailing the decision.

The National Consumers League has been calling on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to implement safety changes that would help keep this major public health threat at bay since November of last year. Recently, NCL brought table saw victims from across the country (whose stories are available below) to CPSC headquarters to share their debilitating injuries with CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

With NCL’s strong support, CPSC has voted unanimously (5-0) in favor of moving forward with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding establishing a national table saw safety standard—a giant step forward in curbing the unnecessary loss of life and limb.

Click here for an NCL fact sheet on saw safety

Victims’ stories of table saw injuries are grisly. Meet Adam, a husband and father of two sons, who is sharing his experience this spring with policymakers in hopes that table saws will be made safer for others:


Adam, a very experienced woodworker who owns a woodworking business, was cutting panels on a contractor saw on May 12, 2010 and as the material started to fall off the backside of the saw, he instinctively went to grab the panel. As he was pulling the panel back, his elbow caught the top of the blade and the blade then pulled his elbow further into the blade, up to the center portion of his forearm.

The blade cut completely through the ulna bone and ulnar nerve in his right forearm, and also caused extensive damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Since the accident, Adam has been going through extensive medical treatment and therapy. He has an upcoming visit to the Mayo Clinic to review the possibility of harvesting nerves from his ankles and feet and transplanting them to his forearm and hand. Doctors estimate it will take 3-5 years for him to recover.

Adam had recently started a woodworking business and was self-employed at the time of the accident, so this has been very tough financially on his young family. Though he is still able to do woodworking, he cannot continue his business because doing the work is too painful and slow to be able to turn a profit on what he builds. He is now in the process of applying for Social Security. He has had medical assistance step in to help with the medical bills, so the out-of-pocket cost of the injury to him and his family is not yet fully known. His wife now works as a part-time nurse to cover living expenses while Adam recovers. Adam has been interviewing for jobs but has not been able to get one because in every interview he has been asked what he can commit to do physically and he cannot yet answer that question. Every day is different in regards to the level of pain he feels in his hand and the degree he can move his fingers.

Read more stories like Adam’s (warning: PDFs contain graphic injury images)Chris | Curtis | Gerald | Adam’s full story

Consumer product safety advocates find stories like Adam’s especially heartbreaking because they are preventable. Eight years ago a company called SawStop, which has developed safety technology to stop the saw blade when it detects electrical impulses given off by a finger or other body part, filed a petition with the Commission asking that the Commission adopt safety technology throughout the industry. The CPSC has yet to act on that petition or set a safety standard for table saws.

A 2006 CPSC staff report to the Commission in response to the petition shows a positive cost-benefit analysis to setting a national performance standard for table saws, and recommends granting the petition and proceeding with a rulemaking process that could result in a mandatory safety standard for table saws to reduce the risk of blade contact injury . CPSC voted in 2006 to start the regulatory process, but no action was ever taken. In early 2011, manufacturers of safer saw technologies were invited to present their positions at a CPSC public meeting, but no additional action has been taken.

“Each day we wait for CPSC to act, 10 new amputations occur,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director, who has been calling on the CPSC to act on table saw safety issues. “We’re throwing away 4,000 fingers each year when safer-saw technology exists. The time for action is now.”

NCL releases Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens 2011 Report – National Consumers League

May 24, 2011

Contact: 202-835-3323,

Washington, DC – As the academic year is winding down for teens across the country, many are in search of that elusive summer job. The nation’s oldest consumer organization is warning teens this summer that doing a little homework might save teens from a painful injury down the road: every day in the United States, about 400 teens are hurt on the job; every two weeks, a teen is killed at work.

In a new report on teen worker safety released this week, the Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens 2011, the National Consumers League (NCL) is alerting teen job seekers to specific jobs that are the most dangerous for youth workers and provides practical advice for teens and their parents about staying safe on the job.

“Job competition may lead working teens who are desperate for work to seek jobs that are unsafe,” said Reid Maki, NCL’s Director for Social Responsibility and Coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition. Since 2000, the percentage of working teens has fallen 40 percent—in part because the federal government has cut back on funding for youth programs and in part because of the global economic recession.

“Job dangers are not always obvious,” said Maki. “When a teen takes a job with a landscaping crew, he doesn’t necessarily realize that the mechanical woodchipper he is working with could kill him or that the metal pole he lifts could hit an electrical wire and cause a deadly electrocution. Teens also get hurt on jobs that seem safe—like retail service positions—where lifting injuries and falls occur or workplace violence can be an issue. We want parents to talk to their kids about possible work dangers and empower them to ask their supervisors questions about their safety at work.”

NCL’s five most dangerous jobs for working youth in 2011 are:

  • Agriculture: Harvesting Crops and Using Machinery
  • Construction and Height Work
  • Traveling Youth Sales Crews
  • Outside Helper: Landscaping, Grounds Keeping and Lawn Service
  • Driver/Operator: Forklifts, Tractors, and ATV’s

Advocates say teen and parents taking caution about workplace dangers is more vital than ever, as some states are alarmingly trending towards a reversal of protections for workers and specifically working teens. A measure in Maine would allow teens to work longer hours each week and work till 11 p.m. on a school night instead of the current 10 p.m., increasing the risk of becoming a victim of workplace violence or of being injured in vehicular accidents. One survey of teen workers cited in the report found that more 10 percent of teenagers had been physically assaulted on the job, and another 10 percent said they had felt sexually harassed.

“This is especially critical now because some states are trying to roll back protections for working teens,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director and co-chair of the NCL-coordinated Child Labor Coalition. “Missouri’s and Maine’s legislature are both considering bills that would seriously weaken child labor protections. The Missouri state budget recently eliminated child labor investigators.”

“Each year, the National Consumers League issues our Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens report to remind teens and their parents to choose summer jobs wisely,” said Greenberg. “We want teens to have a safe and productive work experience. We want teens to consider the safety of each job and to ask employers for safety devices and safety training. Even the best intentioned employers and federal child labor laws do not always protect young workers from dangerous tasks.”

NCL compiles the Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens each year using statistics and reports from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NCL also monitors reports from state labor officials and news accounts of injuries and deaths.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

HUD expose reveals troubling problems – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

Government agencies can be a tremendous boon to consumer protection. Examples abound: the Food and Drug Administration pulls a dangerous drug off the market or forces the recall of products contaminated with salmonella or E. Coli. The Federal Trade Commission holds a hearing on cramming on phone lines, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission looks at hazards to children from lead paint or dangerous toys.

Despite their good work, all government agencies need oversight from Congress, an Inspector General, a local town counsel, or state legislature in order to operate effectively and efficiently.

That clearly didn’t happen with the federal housing agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Washington Post’s recent expose on HUD’s utterly lackadaisical oversight and squandering of precious federal dollars used for housing projects is depressing. HUD allowed local housing agencies to dole out millions to troubled developers who started but didn’t finish jobs, leaving poor and middle class citizens in dire need of housing assistance without any recourse.

Twenty-eight thousand so-called affordable housing projects have had work started but have ultimately been left standing and are incomplete. In Prince Georges County outside of Washington DC, a nonprofit development company received $750,000 in 2005 to build dozens of homes. Six years later not a single house has been built. No one knows what happened to the money. It seems that HUD has a penchant for giving money to developers that have no land, permits, financial capacity, or commitments for private financing.

What I don’t understand is this: anyone who has had the good fortune to get a government grant is also faced with a pile of papers and dates and reports to comply with. This is a result of ensuring that those spending government funds – taxpayer funds – are held accountable. Why don’t those rules apply to developers who deal with HUD? What happens to the oversight of federal agencies that deal with the poor and disenfranchised? And where is Congress when it should be doing that ever-important oversight job?

None of this is good for the reputation of government, which, as I said at the outset, is empowered to protect the interests of all of the citizens and is critical for consumer protection because the market will never perform that function. We hope the Washington Post expose will help to turn things around at HUD and ensure that those who most need housing protections get the services they need.

National Consumers League applauds legislative fix for the court’s anti-consumer ruling in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion – National Consumers League

May 18, 2011

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League’s Sally Greenberg issued the following statement praising the introduction of the Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 987 and H.R. 1873), which would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases, and which would effectively override the Supreme Court’s recent decision in AT&T v. Concepcion:

In April, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court ruled in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion that corporations are now free to write contracts that bar consumers and employees from banding together to challenge corporate misbehavior in class-action lawsuits or even group arbitration. That terribly unfortunate anti-consumer and anti-worker decision gives corporations the ability to decide on their own which civil rights and consumer protections they want to obey, knowing that there will be no effective means available to their victims to find redress. Even worse, it has effectively removed any incentive for corporations to operate fairly and equitably toward their customers and their workers.

The Supreme Court decision undermines decades of progress and protections for workers and consumers. We will not be deterred, however. The earliest leaders of the National Consumers League, Florence Kelley and Frances Perkins, faced numerous Supreme Court decisions that undermined their reformist efforts. Ultimately, Kelley and Perkins prevailed, winning basic protections that banned child labor and set in place maximum hours laws for workers and minimum wage protections.

The National Consumers League strongly supports effort to reverse this very unfortunate Supreme Court decision in Concepcion. The Arbitration Fairness Act has been introduced this week by Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in the US Senate and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) in the House of Representatives. NCL calls on Congress to act swiftly to undo the catastrophic damage done by the Court, end forced arbitration in civil rights, consumer, and employment disputes, and restore the ability of every citizen to use the courts to find justice.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

How safe is your football helmet? Study finds troubling answers – National Consumers League

Football is an inherently rough sport, with takedowns, pile-ups, and tackles all in the name of the game. That’s why football players are required to wear protective gear such as shoulder pads, helmets, and mouth guards. But how do we know if the required equipment does a good enough job of protecting a player’s body from injury? That’s a question a new Virginia Tech study sought to answer when it used more than a decade’s worth of data of more than a million head impacts at Virginia Tech football games and practices, in order analyze to analyze 10 commonly used helmet models. The results were distressing—two models popular among teenagers allow high rates of concussions.

The Riddell VSR-4, a discontinued model still worn by about 75,000 high school and college players, and the Adams A2000, were the lowest-ranked models and carried the highest risk of concussions. Virginia Tech is using the results of the study to create a National Impact Database, that, for the first time, will allow consumers, coaches, and players to go to a website and see which helmets offer the most protection against head injury.

The alarmingly poor performance of several common helmet models is only further proof of the need to pass the Child Sports Athletic Equipment Safety Act. The bill, which NCL strongly supports, would require football helmet manufacturers to develop a voluntary safety standard that address concussion risk and the needs of youth players. The standards would be reviewed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which could issue mandatory safety rules if the voluntary standards are too lenient. The legislation also has a provision that would require independent third party testing and certification of adult football helmets if the voluntary standards prove insufficient.

The rough and tumble nature of football puts players of all levels—from the junior league novice to the NFL superstar—at risk of a developing a concussion and players who sustain multiple hits can suffer long-term brain injury. There is simply no excuse for risking the safety of teen players, many of whom use the sport as a pathway to higher education and scholarships, when there is a fix as simple as a well-designed helmet.