Today, in a pair of unanimous votes, the Commission approved two Final Rules on Window Coverings. These rules come after years of work by staff, and I want to thank them for their conscientious efforts in advancing this package to protect children. I also want to recognize the tireless efforts of consumer advocates, including families whose lives were altered forever by deaths and injuries caused by hazardous cords. In particular, I want to give special recognition to Linda Kaiser for her steadfast efforts to make today a reality. I vividly recall the everyday worries of being a parent with small children, and these rules will mean one less hidden hazard in schools, homes, and public places.
Window covering cords have, for decades, posed a strangulation risk to children—since 2009 there have been at least 209 fatal and near-miss strangulations on window coverings affecting children aged 8 years or younger. In 2018, the voluntary standards committee advanced an effective standard that applies to stock window coverings, and today we used our 15(j) authority to deem products that are noncompliant with this standard a substantial product hazard.
This standard, however, failed to cover the vast number of custom window coverings on the market—leaving open a gaping product safety hole and putting children at risk. With the vote today, we will be closing that hole, and ensuring that all window coverings are safe for consumers to have in their homes and around their children.
The Commission also adopted an amendment today to provide a 180-day effective date for the new safety standard for custom window coverings. This time frame corresponds to the maximum period allowed by statute, absent a finding of good cause that a later effective date is in the public interest. In assessing this issue, the Commission indicated that there had been ample notice of the proposed standard and that manufacturers of custom window coverings had two years to come into compliance with Canada’s similar rule. Because the record did not support a
finding that an extension of the effective date was in the public interest, the Commission preserved the 180-day effective date set forth in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
Window covering cords are too often overlooked in consumers’ homes and have been a hidden hazard to children for decades—I am confident that the rule adopted today will protect consumers.
Once again, our use of CPSC regulatory authority is making a difference in the lives of children and families.