WASHINGTON -- McDonald's Corp. has agreed to pay a $4 million fine to the government for not reporting injuries suffered by children at some of its restaurant playgrounds.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was announcing the settlement Tuesday, said McDonald's violated a 1995 requirement requiring the company to report defective playground equipment to the commission."I'm determined that companies making commitments to CPSC keep them," CPSC Chairwoman Ann Brown said in an interview Monday. "Now children can go to McDonald's playgrounds and know that they will be able to play safely."
According to the commission, McDonald's did not report injuries resulting from its "Big Mac Climber" playground toy -- a large metal platform resembling a hamburger. A hole in the middle of the toy allows kids to climb up and down a ladder inside.
The commission said 400 children were injured while on the climbers, with 20 sustaining concussions or skull fractures and 80 suffering from broken bones.
Most of the injuries occurred during the 1970s and 1980s. The company has since removed the climber from its playground facilities, the CPSC said.
McDonald's spokesman Chuck Eberling stressed that the agreement involves a piece of equipment that "was totally out of our restaurants by the mid-'90s."
"The dispute relates to reporting certain injuries on the playland equipment, and the dispute revolves around the bureaucratic reporting requirements of that," Eberling said.
He said the injuries were "by and large" minor. "There were some broken bones and scrapes and bruises," he said. "There were no deaths or dramatic injuries."
But Brown still expressed concern about the company failing for the second time to tell the commission about an unsafe piece of equipment.
In 1995, the restaurant chain agreed to finance a $5 million safety campaign, overseen by the CPSC, after the commission cited the company for failing to report injuries to children who played on the "Tug-N-Turn" merry-go-round rides.
In signing that settlement, McDonald's denied that it had a statutory reporting obligation because it was not a manufacturer, distributor or retailer of Tug-N-Turns. But the company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., agreed to report to the CPSC any information about playground equipment with defects that could create a hazard.
Under the new agreement with the CPSC, McDonald's has additional reporting and safety guidelines it must follow, including making sure that any obsolete playground equipment be removed, according to the commission.