Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address unsafe accessible cords in both stock and custom window coverings. The CPSC’s briefing package includes two rules for hazardous corded window coverings sold in the United States which creates unsafe sleep and play environments for children. Consumers who rent, and have no buying choice are especially at risk for exposure to unsafe window coverings. The briefing package proposes to categorize “stock window coverings that do not comply with the operating and inner cord requirements in ANSI/WCMA A100.1 – 2018, American National Standard for Safety of Corded Window Covering Products (ANSI/WCMA2018), and custom window coverings that do not comply with the requirements for inner cords in ANSI/WCMA-2018, as a substantial product hazard.” The second part of the proposed rule begins a rulemaking process to “to establish a Safety Standard for Operating Cords on Custom Window Coverings.”
“A mandatory rule addressing all window coverings is necessary,” stated Linda Kaiser, founder of Parents for Window Blind Safety. “Unfortunately, two children strangled on hazardous cords in October. Strangulation incidents can happen quickly while parents can be in the same room. Due to the vagus nerve being compressed during these incidents, the impact of injury is severe and the chance of survival after entanglement is less than one minute.”
For nearly two decades, Parents for Window Blind Safety, Consumer Federation of America, and Independent Safety Consulting, LLC have prioritized window blind safety through participation in the voluntary and mandatory standards processes in the United States and Canada. The organizations participated in the United States WCMA/ANSI voluntary standards process in 2010, 2012, and 2017; Health Canada’s 2013 standard update; and the United States CPSC mandatory standards process through petitioning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2014 to ban unsafe accessible window covering cords.
In 2017, when advocates participated in the voluntary standard development process with CPSC and the window coverings industry, the Window covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) stated that hazards on custom cords would be addressed by initiating an additional safety standard within six months after the December 31st, 2018 enforcement date. Unfortunately, this standard process never began.
“We petitioned the CPSC in 2014 because of the failure of the voluntary standard to adequately address the hazard posed by accessible window covering cords,” stated Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel with Consumer Federation of America. “In the last seven years, that failure has only become starker, and the need for a mandatory standard has become even more necessary. This briefing package is critical to effectively addressing these hazards.”
The NPR finds that warning labels, parental supervision, and safety devices are inadequate in addressing the risk of injuries associated with custom window coverings with cords. Rather, Carol Pollack-Nelson, a human factors psychologist specializing in consumer product safety and owner of Independent Safety Consulting, LLC, notes that “the strangulation hazard posed by window cords is entirely fixable with responsible designs that eliminate dangerous and accessible cords.” The CPSC reviewed websites that sold custom window coverings. The CPSC found that all of the reviewed websites failed to meet the required labeling and safety messaging required by the current voluntary standard for custom window coverings. The CPSC also noted that labeling and cord length limitations on custom products failed to meet the 2018 safety standard.
The CPSC staff concludes that the Canadian regulation, which requires all window coverings to have cords shorter than 12 inches when pulled, is more stringent than the ANSI/WCMA standard.