Nautilus Pays $950,000 Fine For Failing To Report Bowflex Defects

“You can roll it up and put it away;” that’s the repetitive slogan used in Bowflex’s national infomercials. Now the famous Bowflex Power Pro fitness machines will probably be put away permanently, if the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has its way.

Nautilus Inc., the world’s most recognized health fitness corporation agreed to pay a $950,000 penalty for failing to report defects and injuries on its 800,000 Bowflex fitness machines. Federal law requires manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers to immediately report any information about hazardous products to the CPSC.

The CPSC said the penalty settles allegations that Nautilus failed to disclose initial reports on serious neck, back, cuts, and chipped teeth injuries between December l998 and July 2002. During that time, Nautilus made and sold over 420,000 Bowflex Power Pro fitness machines with a backboard bench and lat tower, which is an angled bar towering above the machine used to build back and shoulder muscles.

The CPSC alleged that Nautilus knew about 27 incidents and 25 injuries resulting from the bench abruptly collapsing during use. The CPSC also said the company failed to report a new Bowflex design in June 2000 that was created to strengthen the bench by adding a steel plate. When Nautilus finally reported the defect in January 2004, both CPSC and Nautilus announced a recall of the Power Pro machines.

Between January l995 and April 2004, Nautilus made and sold over 250,000 Bowflex Power Pros without a lat tower, but included an incline support bracket for the workout bench. The CPSC alleged that Nautilus failed to report 28 injuries (broken backs, numbness, and cuts requiring stitches) when the bracket broke or bent abruptly during use between May 2001 and April 2004. The CPSC said that Nautilus changed the bracket’s design in August 2002 to strengthen the apparatus; however, Nautilus failed to report the injuries to CPSC when it occurred in 2001.

In November 2004, a recall of the Power Pro/no lat tower machines was announced.The CPSC said it hopes other companies will learn from this ordeal because it’s important for consumers’ safety to report defective products immediately.

“The recent penalties send a strong message that failing to report potential hazards is illegal,” said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton in a statement.

“Companies need to understand that the quicker they report product safety problems, the quicker we can take action together and protect consumers from injuries.”

Ron D. Arp, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, told BCV.com that Nautilus doesnt admit fault by settling the case.”We simply wanted to put it behind us,” Arp said.

“Although no one likes to pay fines for past models, our dialogue with the CPSC has resulted in our producing higher quality products as we look to the future. We have introduced a new Nautilus standard for quality for the fitness products we bring to market, and taken significant steps to improve our incident reporting systems. This has generated a positive outcome for our customers.”