Consumer regulatory agency issues 'urgent warning' about Peloton treadmill

Peloton called the agency's public warning "inaccurate and misleading."

April 17, 2021, 3:54 PM

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued an "urgent warning" for people to stop using Peloton's Tread+ treadmill if they have small children or pets at home, one month after the company revealed that a child died in an accident involving the workout equipment.

The federal regulatory agency said it has learned of "multiple incidents" of small children and a pet being sucked under and injured beneath the machines. As of Saturday, CPSC said it is aware of 39 incidents involving the treadmill, including one death, and is continuing to investigate all known cases of injury or death related to the $4,295 treadmill.

"CPSC staff believes the Peloton Tread+ poses serious risks to children for abrasions, fractures, and death," the agency said in a statement. "In light of multiple reports of children becoming entrapped, pinned, and pulled under the rear roller of the product, CPSC urges consumers with children at home to stop using the product immediately."

PHOTO: The Consumer Product Safety Commission has released video images showing a child beimng caught under a Peloton treadmill.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has released video images showing a child beimng caught under a Peloton treadmill.
Consumer Product Safety Commission

Peloton called the agency's public warning "inaccurate and misleading." According to a spokesperson, of the 39 incidents reported to CPSC, 23 involved children, 15 were with inanimate objects and one involved a pet.

"There is no reason to stop using the Tread+, as long as all warnings and safety instructions are followed," the company said in a statement. "Children under 16 should never use the Tread+, and Members should keep children, pets, and objects away from the Tread+ at all times."

The company also pushed back against reports that the company was attempting to "delay" CPSC's announcement.

"CPSC has unfairly characterized Peloton's efforts to collaborate and to correct inaccuracies in CPSC's press release as an attempt to delay," the statement said. "Peloton is disappointed that, despite its offers of collaboration, and despite the fact that the Tread+ complies with all applicable safety standards, CPSC was unwilling to engage in any meaningful discussions with Peloton before issuing its inaccurate and misleading press release."

After learning in March that a child died while using the Tread+, Peloton said it notified CPSC within a day. It also alerted customers in a March 18 letter from its CEO and co-founder, John Foley, in which he reminded users to keep children and pets away from Peloton exercise equipment "at all times." The company said it was not releasing additional details about the accident out of respect for the family involved.

Since learning of the death, Peloton said it also discovered through CPSC's public database that a child had experienced a brain injury in connection with the treadmill. In February, a father found his 3-year-old boy trapped under a Tread+ "not breathing and pulseless," according to the CPSC incident report. The child is expected to "fully recover," the company said. After releasing its letter, Peloton said it also received additional reports of earlier incidents and reported them to CPSC.

Treadmills have been known to cause injury and, though rare, death. In 2019, there were an estimated 22,500 treadmill-related injuries treated at U.S. emergency departments, around 2,000 of which were in children under 8 years of age, according to CPSC. Between 2018 and 2020, CPSC received reports of 17 deaths associated with the use of a treadmill, including one of a 5-year-old child.

In its warning Saturday, CPSC shared a video to demonstrate "the hazard to children posed by the Tread+." The video, which the agency warned may be disturbing to viewers, shows two children playing on and by the treadmill, apparently alone. One of the children is holding a ball while standing in front of the belt when the ball and his arms get stuck underneath the treadmill. The child's upper body then gets pulled under, before he is able to wiggle free and walk away.

PHOTO: A Peloton Tread+ treadmill is pictured in an undated marketing image released by Peloton.
A Peloton Tread+ treadmill is pictured in an undated marketing image released by Peloton.

For those who continue to use the treadmill, CPSC recommended keeping it in a locked room, away from objects including exercise balls, and to unplug and store its safety key out of reach of children when not in use.

Peloton also advised customers to remove the safety key when not using the treadmill "precisely to avoid the kind of incident that this video depicts."

"The importance of following Peloton's safety warnings and instructions is abundantly clear in the video" shared by CPSC, it said.

On Saturday, the $34 billion company said it "remains open to working" with the agency to ensure customers safely use its products.

"While Peloton knows that the Tread+ is safe for the home when used in accordance with warnings and safety instructions, the company is committed to taking whatever steps are necessary and appropriate to further inform Members of potential risks and remind them of measures they need to take to safeguard themselves and others in their households," it said, noting it has added additional safety messages from instructors during classes. "Peloton will also continue to work to develop industry-leading safety features for connected home exercise equipment."

Peloton's high-end equipment, which also includes a stationary bike, skyrocketed in popularity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and various stay-at-home orders.

In October, Peloton agreed to recall certain pedals on its stationary bikes because they could break unexpectedly during use. There were 120 reports of pedal breakages, including 16 reports of leg injuries, according to CPSC's recall announcement.