Toys and other children’s products should be tested for safety before they reach store shelves and kids’ hands, according to a vote Wednesday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to implement new safety testing rules.

“People might assume independent safety tests were already required for toys. But the reality is, too often, dangerous toys aren’t discovered until there’s a tragedy,” said Ami Gadhia of Consumers Union in a press release that applauds the outcome of the vote.

The stories of children injured and killed by unsafe, untested products compelled Congress to pass the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008, which was signed into law by President Bush. Yesterday’s vote formalizes the new testing rules, which were a key component of the 2008 law.

Andrew Hartung, father of three, attended yesterday’s hearing in support of the proposed rules for independent safety testing. In 2007 he awoke to screams from his 2-year-old daughter to find her hand trapped in a collapsed portion of her crib, which was later recalled. He knows the outcome could have been much worse if it had been her neck. “My daughter’s crib recall, and seeing how close I came to losing her, opened my eyes to a scary realization of how manufacturers operate,” said Hartung, whose daughter is now 5 and in kindergarten. “We cannot tolerate manufacturers who put profits before people.”

The ruling sets new requirements such as testing for lead or lead paint in product materials, identification of hazards that could cause injuries or choking, and confirmation that nursery products, including cribs and strollers, meet the strict standards required by the law.

No one is happier to see these new safety standards enforced than Kara Burkhart.  Her son, Colton, swallowed a necklace charm from a vending machine when he was 4 years old.   It turned out to be 39% lead.   Colton endured surgery and painful treatments to lower his blood lead levels, which were off the chart.   Today, 8 years later, his levels are still elevated, and Kara has continued to fight for more rigorous safety testing before these kinds of products are sold to children.   Upon hearing about the CPSC vote she said, “I am thrilled that it passed! Now, hopefully nothing like what happened to my son or Andrew’s daughter will happen to another family.”

Our deepest thanks to the Hartung and Burkhart families who have continued to be outspoken advocates for safer children’s products, and to the thousands of you who sent emails to the CPSC urging them to pass these stronger rules to help prevent unsafe products from ever coming to market.