Why Are Peloton Treadmills Dangerous? Recall After Child's Death

Peloton is recalling its Tread+ and Tread exercise machines following safety concerns. On Thursday, the company urged any customer who has either treadmill to stop using it immediately. But why are Peloton treadmills dangerous?

First, the Tread+ recall is separate from the Tread recall. The Tread machines are being recalled following 18 reports of the touchscreen loosening and six reports of the touchscreen detaching and falling. No injuries have been reported in the U.S. but there have been reports of minor injuries such as cuts and bruises in other countries.

However, the safety concerns about the Tread+ machines are far more serious.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about Peloton Tread+ machines in April after the death of a child. There were also dozens of reports of injuries to young children and a pet who had become trapped in the machines.

The treadmill uses slat-belt technology and there is a gap between the moving belt and the floor.

Peloton Treadmill
A detail shot shows the running deck of a Peloton Tread machine. Peloton has recalled the Tread and Tread+ treadmills because of safety concerns. Ethan Miller/Getty

In April, the safety commission released a video of a child being pulled under the Peloton treadmill to demonstrate the risk. In the video, a girl walks on the treadmill while a boy plays with a ball at the back of the machine. When the boy places the ball at the end of the treadmill, his arm appears to be pulled under the machine.

While the boy is trapped, the girl runs away, presumably to get help. In the meantime, the boy tries to pull himself out from under the treadmill, only to be pulled back under by his arm. The machine then moves over the top half of his body, leaving only his legs visible. The boy eventually manages to pull himself free.

Last month—when the federal agency was aware of 39 incidents, including one death—it advised Tread+ users to stop using the machine if there were young children or pets at home, or to keep it in a locked room away from children and pets. Customers were also urged to unplug the treadmill and store the safety key away from the device and out of the reach of children.

However, on Thursday, Peloton issued a voluntary recall, urging Tread+ users to immediately stop using the machine and to contact the company for a full refund by November 6, 2022. Customers who do not want a refund are urged to move the treadmill to a room that children and pets cannot access.

Peloton also said it was implementing software updates to lock the treadmill automatically by assigning a four-digit passcode.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission cited the risk of injury as the reason for the recall, following the death of a six-year-old child and 72 reports of adults, children, pets and objects being pulled under the treadmill. There have been 29 reports of injuries to children, including second and third-degree abrasions, broken bones and lacerations.

John Foley, CEO of Peloton, said in a statement: "The decision to recall both products was the right thing to do for Peloton's members and their families. I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's request that we recall the Tread+. We should have engaged more productively with them from the outset. For that, I apologize.

"Today's announcement reflects our recognition that, by working closely with the CPSC, we can increase safety awareness for our members. We believe strongly in the future of at-home connected fitness and are committed to work with the CPSC to set new industry safety standards for treadmills. We have a desire and a responsibility to be an industry leader in product safety."