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Change Coming to the Window Blind Industry

Showdown Between the CPSC & the WCMA

If it sounds like a heavyweight boxing match, that is because it has been for the past two decades. However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has finally landed a blow on the Window Coverings Manufacturers Association. The WCMA has a long history of ducking and dodging all suggested action from the CPSC, simply carrying on in their ways since the warnings began in 1994.

While the CPSC continually brought up issues of child danger and risk for strangulation, the WCMA gave only poor efforts of attempted change. Thus, the CPSC has decided to take the first step towards creating a new standard, without the voluntary action of the WCMA.

Why is there a need for new window blind standards?

According to data, 11 children are strangled from window blind cords every year, while roughly 1,590 have to seek medical care for injuries resulting from entanglement. This data was gathered from 1996 to 2012 and analyzed by the CPSC. Moreover, they reported that there has been little to no change in these numbers over the year, demonstrating a lack of action from manufacturers and the window blind industry as a whole.

The CPSC has issued many warnings over the years, to which the WCMA responded with limited, primarily failed action. Though changes were made in some design elements, such as eliminating single tassel loops, they did not effectively prevent child fatalities or injuries as intended.

CPSC took what seemed like swift action in 2009, recalling 50 million Roman shades and roll-up blinds, seeking to reinforce the idea for change. While this was a positive step, it still did not truly address the major issue with initial manufacturing and design. Unsatisfied with simply reducing the danger, rather than eliminating it altogether, the CPSC continued to take steps to encourage the WCMA to make serious changes.

Alternative Options for Window Blinds

Most surprising about the lack of action from the WCMA is the fact that technology and new designs make it easily possible for them to leave more dangerous designs in the past.

There have been numerous alternatives to cords available for years, such as:

  • Break-away operating cords
  • Cordless shades
  • Wand operators
  • Cord retractors
  • Cord shrouds

Still, countless companies still choose to use life-threatening designs instead. Why? The cost. According to studies, many alternatives cost much more to create than the pull cord and continuous loop designs. However, can the industry really put a price tag on the safety of children throughout the country?

While the CPSC seems to be tired of waiting around, they are required to start with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which could still give the WCMA time to voluntarily come up with their own new standard, somewhat redeeming themselves for their decades of dodging action. Regardless of who makes the official new standard, it seems that long-awaited change to the window blind industry is finally coming.