It is important because the agency has received reports for years about entanglements and strangulations involving drawstrings. When an industry voluntary standard for drawstrings, ASTM F 1816-97, was published in 1998, it led to a dramatic reduction in fatalities and yet we continued to receive incident reports.
This vote is a long time in coming because the agency should have moved sooner to make clear the agency’s position. In 2006, we posted a letter on CPSC’s website to the manufacturers, importers, and retailers of children’s upper outerwear, citing the fatalities that had occurred and urging compliance with the industry standard. Yet from 2006 to 2010, we participated in 115 recalls of non-complying products with drawstrings. While traveling in Southeast Asia last year, I heard from manufacturers and testing labs the request for the agency to clarify through rulemaking exactly what the law is. In May 2010, we published a proposed rule that would deem these children’s upper outerwear garments to be substantial product hazards. Since then I have continually urged my colleagues to finalize this rulemaking as quickly as possible so that manufacturers, importers and retailers were finally put on notice that we consider these products to be a substantial hazard.
Today’s vote makes it clear: we have no tolerance for drawstrings endangering children on their upper outerwear. And I am glad to have helped bring this one across the finish line.