The cords on window shades and blinds have been a cause of injury and death in children because of the strangulation hazard they present for decades, resulting in about one child dying every month.
Last summer, safety regulators in several countries, including the U.S., instructed the window covering industry to enact new safety standards that would help to eliminate those hazards.
But safety advocates and government regulators believe that the newest proposals being considered by the Window Covering Manufacturers Associations could cause the deaths of more children because it allows the manufacturers to still use the cords that are safety hazards.
Inez Tanenbaum, chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, had urged the trade group to eliminate the exposed cords on window coverings. In a letter, Tanenbaum wrote, “I encourage you to guard against accepting…requirements that would continue to allow strangulation risks…out of a misplaced desire for convenience, aesthetics or placating anyone who may wish to continue moving slowly, rather than proactively addressing this longstanding problem once and for all.”
The Chicago Tribune reports, “The window blind trade association sets voluntary standards for its products. Regulators and safety groups sometimes give suggestions, but the industry usually has the final say and more input. In rare cases, government regulators step in and require mandatory standards, which Tanenbaum said she would consider.
Federal law reduces regulators to bit players in the process of writing voluntary product standards. Amendments passed in the Reagan administration bar The Consumer Product Safety Administration from issuing mandatory safety requirements unless those regulators can prove that the voluntary ones won’t cut the risk of injury or that most manufacturers aren’t following them.”
The window covering industry and regulators have over the years tried to educate parents, recalled certain products, and made tweaks to products to help reduce safety hazards, but not all were eliminated even in new products, and many homes still have the older blinds.