America's Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has urged owners of the hi-tech Peloton Tread+ treadmill to use caution after a child was killed by one of the machines last month.
"CPSC is aware of 39 incidents including one death," the US government agency said in a statement on Saturday.
"CPSC staff believes the Peloton Tread+ poses serious risks to children for abrasions, fractures, and death.
"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."
To support this advice, the watchdog released a disturbing video of a child getting sucked under the treadmill, an incident that left the young 'un alive albeit injured. The CPSC said it was also investigating at least one incident of an adult being hurt while using the Tread+ themselves.
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After a year of lockdown, use of home exercise equipment has ballooned, and Peloton became a painfully trendy darling of the industry. Its winning formula involved sticking a large iPad-like touchscreen to a standard treadmill or exercise bike, and serving from this built-in display exercise videos and group training sessions paid for via a subscription.
The biz went public in 2019, and this weekend's alert saw its stock price drop – it's down more than 7 per cent at time of writing – even though it disputes the CPSC's claims.
"There is no reason to stop using the Tread+, as long as all warnings and safety instructions are followed," the exercise biz said. "Children under 16 should never use the Tread+, and Members should keep children, pets, and objects away from the Tread+ at all times.
"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."
Peloton said that after the death in March, it notified the CPSC immediately, and the manufacturer's CEO, John Foley, sent out an email to subscribers on March 18 warning them to keep pets and children away from the internet-connected smart machines and to abide by safety guidelines.
"Peloton invited CPSC to make a joint announcement about the danger of not following the warnings and safety instructions provided with the Tread+, and Foley asked to meet directly with CPSC," the upstart said.
"CPSC has unfairly characterized Peloton's efforts to collaborate and to correct inaccuracies in CPSC's press release as an attempt to delay. This could not be farther from the truth. The company already urged Members to follow all warnings and safety instructions."
The CPSC urged Peloton subscribers to keep the equipment in a locked room children and pets can't get into even if an adult is using the equipment at the time, and to unplug the machines when not in use. ®