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Regulators Question the Safety and Efficacy of Exposed Window Blind Cords

According to U.S. safety regulators, exposed window blind cords are responsible for the strangulation of approximately one child every month. Safety advocates, in an attempt to eliminate such threats, have pleaded with industry representatives to rid their products of these unnecessary dangers. However, prominent manufacturers of window blinds have refused to remove exposed cords from window blinds and shades, opting to adopt less-stringent standards. Unfortunately, these industry imposed regulations demonstrate a gross negligence for child safety.

Manufacturers of window blinds and shades, who are tasked with providing their own safety standards, have allegedly begun to implement less-stringent rules to cut development costs. Subsequently, safety advocates believe that the established regulations are insufficient in providing consumers with safe household products. According to Rachel Weintraub, the director of product safety with the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, “the industry is clinging to the status quo and is refusing to address this very dire safety issue.” Weintraub expresses her frustration with the industry, calling their propensity for negligence “tragic.”

Current safety regulations have resulted in unsafe products. The same cords that are used operate the blinds, serve as a mechanism of strangulation. Subsequently, young children may be strangled by the exposed cords if they become entangled in them. According to U.S. safety regulators, exposed cords are responsible for nearly 12 deaths a year.

An influx of adverse events, regarding exposed cords, initiated growing concern across the globe. Last summer, safety regulators in the U.S., Canada and Europe told the window covering industry to enact product standards that would eliminate strangulation hazards. Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, issued an October deadline in which the demands were to be met. According to her proposed safety standards, Tenenbaum said the agency may be forced to pass mandatory safety standards if their demands were not met. Tenenbaum acknowledged the need for reform, stating that exposed cords “poses too much risk to the safety of children.”

However, the demands issued by safety regulators were met with significant opposition. Industry representatives claimed that the requests of the safety regulator task force were not feasible. To rid blinds of accessible cords is impractical. “There’s common sense, and then there’s over-regulation,” said Edward Krenik, a lobbyist for the Window Covering Manufacturers Association. Such demands do not make sense, according to industry representatives.

Despite regulatory attempts to make blinds safer for children, disagreement prevails over blinds and their safety standards. Subsequently, regulations suggested by the industry do not meet the approval of safety regulators who think such attempts are futile.

One such attempt suggested by industry manufacturers acknowledges the need for a proper warning. Their proposal would require that a warning label on product packaging say: “For child safety, consider cordless alternatives or products with accessible cords.” However, advocates say that the warning does not explicitly tell parents not to use the products if children live in the home. Linda Kaiser, founder of Parents for Window Blind Safety, questions that “ if their standard is so stringent, why do they have to put the warning on products?” Kaiser founded the organization after she lost her daughter in 2002 when she was strangled by the exposed cords next to her crib.

Over the years, the window coverings industry and regulators have tried to educate parents about safety hazards, and companies have tweaked products in hopes of making them safer. Accordingly, recalls have been initiated with supposedly dangerous blinds. 2009 witnessed millions of Roman shades be recalled after regulators got reports of five deaths and 16 near strangulations.

Due to the severe nature of such adverse incidents, the coming months will witness the window covering industry continue to pass their own safety standards. However, propositions issued by Tenenbaum may require the industry to adhere to government regulations if those set by the industry are insufficient. Doing so will be an attempt to coerce the window coverings industry to implement stricter safety standards and eliminate future incidences.

However, the process of imposing government regulations may take time. Regulators are required to do an extensive cost-benefit analysis of any standard before such regulations may be put in place. To issue mandatory safety requirements, regulators have to prove that the voluntary ones will not cut the risk of injury or that most manufacturers aren’t following them anyway.

Do I Have an Exposed Window Cord Injury Lawsuit?

The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in exposed window cord injury lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has been injured by an exposed window cord, you may be entitled to financial compensation. For a free case review, please click the link below or call toll free 24 hrs/day 1-800-773-0849.

Categories: Product Liability
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