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New Window Covering Safety Standard Poised to Go Into Effect

Thanks to the Window Covering Manufacturers Association for sharing this article with us.

Did you know there was a new window covering safety standard approved earlier this year that will impact every manufacturer, retailer, distributor, salesperson and designer working in our industry? The Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) announced that the new standard, ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2018, will require that all stock products sold in stores and online—which accounts for the majority of all window covering products sold in the U.S. and Canada—to be cordless or have inaccessible cords. 

The revised safety standard segments the market between stock and custom-made products because U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data shows that requiring stock products to be cordless or have inaccessible cords will have the most immediate, significant impact on reducing the strangulation risk to young children from certain window covering cords. What is a stock product? The common denominator is that the product is produced in advance of any consumer order or request for that product. Cut-down programs typically adjust the width of a stock product, so it is still considered a stock product. It does not matter if that cut-down adjustment is made on the floor of a retail store or in a manufacturer or distributor’s plant. In keeping with this new standard, that product must be cordless or have inaccessible cords also.

Corded window coverings only will be available on custom-order products. The revised standard imposes new restrictions on these custom-order products, such as requiring operating cords to have a default length of 40 percent of the blind height (currently it is unlimited) and a default to a tilt wand instead of a tilt cord. The new safety standard also includes a change in warning labels and warning tags to more graphically depict the strangulation hazard.

It’s important to understand that all products manufactured after December 15, 2018 must comply with the new standard, although many manufacturers are already introducing products based on the new standard. Equally important to note is that all companies which manufacture, distribute or sell window coverings in the U.S. must comply with the voluntary safety standard or face enforcement action by the CPSC and/or be open to legal action if noncompliant products are sold. “Voluntary” simply signifies that the industry worked cooperatively with the CPSC, safety experts and others under the auspices of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop the standard.

ANSI mandates an open and balanced process with public review opportunities. The 18-month process required assembling a consensus body (the canvass group), submitting the draft standard to the canvass group for ballot and comment, addressing the comments received, re-balloting, a public review period, and then finally achieving approval of the standard. Industry representatives, along with consumer groups, safety experts and CPSC representatives, worked incredibly hard on the revised standard.  

The new standard applies to new product production, but there obviously are many window coverings in the marketplace that were produced well in advance of this standard. In recognition of that issue, it is the responsibility of every member of our industry to have a discussion with every client and customer about the potential strangulation hazards associated with certain corded products so that we can increase consumer awareness on this critically important issue.

Consumers today can also look for the “Best for Kids” certification label (see below) to identify cordless window covering options. WCMA created the program in 2015 to make it easier for consumers shopping for window coverings to identify cordless products.

For a copy of the new standard, visit the WCMA website at www.wcmanet.org.

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