Late last week, a handful of consumer advocates walked out of discussions of how best to revise window blind industry standards to eliminate safety hazards. Advocates, including Consumer Reports' senior director of product safety and technical policy, Don Mays, said the task force on window blind safety was ignoring the suggestions put forth by the consumer advocates.
The task force was created last year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and is composed of 30 or so members, including manufacturers, federal regulators and consumer safety advocates such as Mays. The goal: To create, by this October, an industry-wide safety standard or risk government regulation.
While the latest disagreements between task force members may have stalled progress, the danger from window blinds remains very real, say advocates.
In the U.S., about one child per month becomes entangled and strangled by the cords from window blinds or shades. Yet despite tens of millions of recalled window coverings due to safety hazards, window covering manufacturers have been slow to eliminate the hazard from their products. What's more, the industry, for now, has only a voluntary safety standard composed by the Window Covering Manufacturers Association trade group.
Advocates believe that without their input, the task force may develop standards that aren't strict enough.
Earlier this summer, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum sent a letter to the WCMA that expressed her concern that the organization was considering standard changes that “could continue to expose children to the strangulation hazard.”