For more than 35 years, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recognized the risk of child strangulation due to window covering cords. During that time, CPSC has worked with the window covering industry to develop voluntary standards that would address the risk. Despite going through numerous revisions, however, the voluntary standards have failed to adequately protect young children from injury or death due to accessible window covering cords. Between 2009 and 2021, there were at least 209 fatal or near-miss strangulation incidents involving window covering cords and young children; in at least 100 instances, the child died. In 2018, the voluntary standards were updated to establish strong protections against the risks posed by window covering operating cords on stock window coverings. Although accessible window covering cords on custom window coverings expose children to the same risk of injury or death as those on stock window coverings, the standards did not establish similar standards for operating cords on custom window coverings.
In November 2022, the CPSC issued a mandatory standard for custom window covering cords, applying the standards for stock window covering operating cords to custom window covering operating cords. The Window Covering Manufacturers Association challenged the rule in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and it moved for a stay of the rule pending review or for vacatur and remand to the agency. On behalf of Consumer Reports, Kids In Danger, Parents for Window Blind Safety, and Public Citizen, appearing as amici curiae, we filed an opposition to the motion. On January 10, 2023, however, the court granted the motion for a stay.
In March 2023, we filed an amicus brief in support of CPSC on behalf of Public Citizen, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Kinds In Danger, Parents for Window Blind Safety, and US PIRG. The brief explains both the strong basis for the standard and rebuts the manufacturers’ argument that the rule is invalid because CPSC commissioners can be removed by the president only for cause.
In September 2023, the D.C. Circuit granted the Window Covering Manufacturers Association’s petition for review and vacated the rule. The court held that the CPSC had failed to comply with notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements, erred in relying on certain data in its cost-benefit analysis, and chosen an arbitrary effective data for the rule.