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CPSC Safety Standard Targets Garage Door Deaths

Release Date: June 12, 1991

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously today to publish regulations required by Congress to protect young children from being trapped under garage doors. CPSC is aware of 46 confirmed deaths to children between the ages of two and 14 from March 1982 to December 1990.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 1990 requires that all residential garage door operators manufactured after January 1, 1991, meet the entrapment protection provisions for garage door operators contained in the Underwriters Laboratories' (UL) revised voluntary standard of May 4, 1988. These provisions are being codified by the CPSC.

Major entrapment protection provisions of the UL standard incorporated in the new law are:

- All garage door operators must provide a reversing system to reverse a downward moving door within two seconds after the door contacts a two-inch high test block placed on the floor in the door's path.

- All garage door operators must re-open the door within 30 seconds of the start of movement in the downward direction if the mechanism senses that the door did not fully close to the garage floor.

- Once the door is moving down, the door must stop, and may reverse, if the control button is pushed again. If the door is moving up, pushing the control button must stop the door and prevent it from moving downward.

- All garage door operators must have a manually operated means to detach the operator from the door.

In addition, manufacturers must provide purchasers of garage door operators with a cautionary label to be placed near the wall switch which activates the automatic garage door. This label specifies the means to detach the operator from the door, and cautions users about the risk of injury and proper door operator safety to reduce the risk of injury. A second label instructs homeowners how to disconnect the unit from the door.

The new law also requires that, effective on and after July 1 of this year, manufacturers of garage door operators, in consultation with the Commission, must notify consumers of the potential entrapment hazard. This notice will also advise consumers to test their devices to verify that the reversing feature of their garage door mechanism is working properly. CPSC advises that units should be tested monthly to verify that they are in proper working order.

Meanwhile, continuing work on a revised UL voluntary standard is pointing the way toward increased protection against entrapment. Manufacturers of garage door operators, the Commission staff, and UL are examining a number of additional entrapment protection devices and safety features for garage doors, including photoelectric sensors, edge sensors, and related devices.

These new safety devices or features are expected to be included in a revised UL standard by June 1, 1992. Congress instructed CPSC to include these new safety requirements in the federal standard for garage door operators manufactured after January 1, 1993.

In issuing the new requirements, the Commission also directed the staff to draft proposed rules for certification and record-keeping requirements for firms that manufacture or import garage door operators. These rules will help CPSC staff enforce the Federal safety standard for garage door operators.

The CPSC is the Federal agency responsible for consumer product safety. Some 15,000 different kinds of consumer products fall within the Commission's jurisdiction and each year these products are involved in an estimated 29 million injuries and 22,000 deaths.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A statement from CPSC Chairman Jacqueline Jones-Smith follows.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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