CPSC Issues New Drawstring Rules for Children’s Outerwear

In a 5-to-0 vote, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve a new federal safety rule concerning <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/product_liability">drawstrings in children’s outerwear.

The final rule designates the following as substantial product hazards:

• Children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 12, with neck or hood drawstrings

• Children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 16, with certain waist or bottom drawstrings

Drawstrings can catch or become entangled with objects, such as a car door or playground slide, posing dragging, strangulation entrapment hazards to children.

To date, the agency has received 26 reports of children who have died when the drawstring on their garment became entangled on playground slides, school bus doors, and other objects. Waist and bottom drawstrings that have been caught in doors or other car parts have resulted in dragging incidents.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 provided CPSC with the authority to specify, by rule, for any consumer product or class of consumer products, characteristics whose existence or absence shall be deemed a substantial product hazard. CPSC’s federal partners at Customs and Border Protection now have authority to stop potentially hazardous shipments of children’s outerwear with drawstrings from entering the United States. The CPSC also now has increased regulatory authority to issue product recalls for violative garments.

In February 1996, CPSC issued guidelines, which were incorporated into an industry voluntary standard in 1997, to help prevent children from strangling or becoming entangled on drawstrings in outerwear garments, such as jackets or sweatshirts.

Since the industry standard was introduced, fatal incidents involving garments with drawstrings through the neck or hood have decreased by 75 percent, and fatalities associated with drawstrings through the waist or bottom have dropped 100 percent. Sadly, despite the implementation of the standard, the guidelines are too often ignored by manufacturers and, from 2006 through 2010, the agency participated in 115 recalls for noncomplying products with drawstrings.

CPSC Commissioners’ statements regarding the vote on drawstrings in children’s outerwear can be accessed at:

• Chairman Inez M. Tenenbaum
• Commissioner Nancy A. Nord

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