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CPSC Enacts New Regulations On Children’s Apparel
Vol. 832 
July 12, 2011

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has fielded 26 reports of children who have died when the drawstring on their jacket or sweatshirt became entangled on playground slides, school bus doors and other objects. Waist and bottom drawstrings have also been caught in car doors, resulting in children being dragged.

In the wake of such reports, the CPSC ruled last week that drawstrings on children's outerwear are "substantial product hazards." The ruling, approved in a 5-0 vote, empowers U.S. custom and border agents to prevent shipments of children's outerwear from entering the United States. Additionally, the CPSC has greater authority to recall children's outerwear that features drawstrings.

The new rule states the product hazard designation applies to children's upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 12, with neck or hood strings, and children's lower outerwear in sizes 2T through 16, with certain waist or bottom strings. In February 1996, CPSC issued guidelines that were incorporated into an industry voluntary standard in 1997. Since the industry standard was introduced, fatal incidents involving garments with drawstrings through the neck or hood have decreased 75%, while fatalities associated with drawstrings through the waist or bottom have dropped 100%. Still, from 2006 through 2010, the CPSC engaged in 115 recalls of non-complying products with drawstrings.

CPSC Chair Inez M. Tannebaum says: "This rule strengthens CPSC's authority to regulate drawstrings, and empowers our import staff and federal partners at Customs and Border Protection to quickly halt shipments of potentially hazardous children's outerwear at the ports of entry. The conversion of these longstanding voluntary guidelines into a mandatory standard could not have come soon enough. It is time for the garment industry to achieve complete compliance with this simple requirement designed to keep our nation's children safe in homes, on playgrounds and at the bus stop.

Reached by Counselor, Hit executives declined to comment on the lawsuit or the letter. Officials with Tervis would not discuss pending matters of litigation. Dwight Lueck, an attorney representing Williams Industries, would not talk about the case without authorization from his client.

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