Additonal CSPC Information and Points to Consider

Additional Background
On January 7, 2022, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) seeking to issue a Mandatory Standard for Operating Cords on Custom Window Coverings. The NPR, if enacted, would require that operating cords on custom window coverings not exceed eight inches of length in all product positions. In addition, the rule does not allow the use of continuous cord loop operating systems, top down/ bottom-up systems nor retractable cord operating systems. Last, the rule would have an effective date of 180 days after its approval by CPSC and, based on the CPSC interpretation, it will apply in many non-residential commercial environments as well (e.g., lobbies, retail locations, public spaces, hospitality, restaurants, and multi-family).

The elimination of all cords greater than 8” in length, in all product positions, will have a dramatic impact on custom products and your business. There is much at stake and there is only a small window of time for us to do something about it. If the industry’s voice is not promptly and forcefully heard by the CPSC, the mandatory standard could be imposed as soon as October 2022.

The rulemaking process allows interested parties to submit comments to CPSC regarding these changes. The deadline to submit comments is March 23, 2022. We strongly encourage you to submit comments representing your business’ point of view.

Below are the key issues and suggested points to include for opposing the mandatory rule. Please review these issues and comment on those that are relevant to your business. You do not need to limit yourself to any specific number of comments or the issues addressed below.

Issue: Who are you?
Briefly describe your company – how many years in business, number of employees.

Issue: Does your company support the current WCMA/ANSI Window Coverings Safety Standard?

Suggested points:

  • All products that you sell are compliant with the 2018 ANSI/WCMA Window Coverings Safety Standard (i.e., no stock product with cords/chains)
  • If accurate, note that you only source products from manufacturers that are members of WCMA
  • If you have trained employees on window covering product safety, describe your training program.
  • Describe how you make applicable commercial customers (e.g., multi-family) aware of their child safety options for your products.

Issue: The Impact of Eliminating Safe Products

The WCMA is currently in the process of updating the 2018 WCMA/ANSI voluntary safety standard that will include the elimination of all free hanging cords (example: standard cord locks & cord tilts). Those two systems have been the primary cause of the child strangulation hazards and incidents on window covering products. The updated WCMA/ANSI Window Covering Safety Standard will also add performance requirements for continuous cord loop systems using a spring tension device. This action is designed to further reduce the already limited hazard associated with these operating systems when they are properly designed and installed. Based on incident reports, cords under tension have already been proven safe.

The CPSC’s proposed mandatory standard however, takes the position that cords under tension represent unreasonable risk. The mandatory standard would prohibit products with cords under tension from being sold both for residential use and commercial use if the commercial use involves enjoyment of a consumer in or around a permanent or temporary household or residence, a school, in recreation, or otherwise. These drastic changes would eliminate whole segments of your product line with no alternative to replace them, including: (manual solar / roller shades) continuous cord loops with tension devices, (aluminum horizontals and faux wood blinds), top down / bottom up designs & retractable cords.

Suggested points:

  • The financial impact to your business if cords under tension were banned from being sold.
    • What % of your sales are manual solar / roller shades that utilize a standard bead chain cord loop?
  • Reaction by your customers to a significantly smaller product selection.
    • Would they keep their older product longer?
    • Will they try to repair or modify existing products?
  • The reasons why a customer may request a custom-corded product is because it can service a variety of size, weight, budget, and location constraints. For example, some consumers may require a corded option of some type, including individuals small in stature and those with disabilities who are not able to operate their blinds or shades absent a cord or for windows where the location makes manual cordless impractical or impossible to reach. In any event, emphasize that you and your team continue to raise child safety issues on all relevant customer calls and as part of any relevant consultation services that you may perform.

Issue: Product Mix Change

Suggested points:

  • Mention if your product mix changed in the last three years because of the increased availability of cordless products resulting in your business moving away from standard corded products. Was any change in the custom segment related to the product changes that have occurred in the stock product segment after the 2018 WCMA/ANSI Standard was enforced?
  • If your sales in the last three years include more products that are cordless (example motorized, retractable cords, cordless lift systems, shutters etc.), it would be important to let the CPSC know that fact because the adoption of those cordless products continue to reduce the hazard associated with corded window coverings. However, as stated above, put this in the context of still needing corded products to address some customers’ needs (e.g., budget restrictions to go motorized or fully motorized).

Issue: Current Implementation Plan (Timing)
The CPSC is proposing that its mandatory standard comes into force only 180 days after approval, meaning possibly as early as fall 2022.

Suggested points:

  • Convey the challenges such a short timeframe (180 days) creates for your business.
    • For example, you might also mention the impact of trying to modify marketing plans, updating merchandising displays and samples, updating internal IT systems upgrades to support ordering and pricing schedules, and completing employee training in six months.
    • In addition, there may be longer lead time projects that actually would require a product change.
  • Concern that a six-month time period will not give your suppliers adequate time to make the switch to cordless options where feasible. This will result in significantly reduced amounts of products to sell, severely hurting your business.
  • Might the short time frame aggravate any supply chain issues you face, for example from your window covering manufacturers?

Learn more about the NPR