Recall: P&M Worm Probes Found Hazardous



July 26, 1991

(301) 504-7908

Release # 91-099


P&M Worm Probes Found Hazardous; Electrocution Risk Cited In CPSC Order To Halt Manufacture And Sale Of Worm Probes

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has determined that the "WORM GETT'RS," an electric worm probe made by P&M Enterprises of Caldwell, Idaho, presents an electrocution hazard and may no longer be produced or sold.

In a lengthy decision and Order issued on July 17, 1991, the Commission unanimously upheld the decision of Administrative Law Judge Paul J. Clerman that the P&M "WORM GETT'RS" was defective. The product, which is used to shock worms out of the ground, can expose users and passers-by to a lethal dose of electricity.

The worm probe draws full line voltage, 110-120 volts, to its two, six, or 12 bare metal shafts. The Commission found that by touching the exposed shafts, or even by contacting the ground in the vicinity of the probe, consumers could be shocked or electrocuted. Twenty-eight persons, most of them children, have died using "functionally equivalent" worm probes.

The Commission ordered P&M to refrain from manufacturing the product, offering it for sale, distributing it, or importing it into the United States. The agency directed its staff to work with P&M to notify the public of the hazard and to warn consumers against further use of the worm probe. Because the owners of P&M have declared bankruptcy, and lack the resources to conduct a recall campaign, the Commission did not require the firm to recall the hazardous probes. P&M can elect to appeal the Commission's decision to a Federal court.

The CPSC has taken this action as part of its mission to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury and death associated with consumer products. The CPSC is a Federal agency responsible for consumer product safety. Some 15,000 different types of products fall under the Commission's jurisdiction and each year these products are involved in an estimated 28.5 million injuries and 21,600 deaths.