22 June 2012
CPSC Issues Guidelines on Use of Drawstrings in Children’s Upper Outerwear
As we have extensively reported, the Consumer Product Safety Commission on 1 July 2011 approved a federal safety rule that designated children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 12 with neck or hood drawstrings, and children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 16 with certain waist or bottom drawstrings, as substantial product hazards. This rule entered into force on 18 August 2011. As a result, CBP has the authority to stop potentially hazardous shipments of children’s outerwear with drawstrings from entering the United States and the CPSC has increased regulatory authority to issue product recalls of violative garments.
In an effort to improve compliance with this federal safety rule, the CPSC has issued a document with frequently asked questions on the use of drawstrings in children’s upper outerwear. The document provides a thorough review of the current requirements and clarifies several issues of particular importance. The document makes clear that the current federal standard prohibits drawstrings around the hood and neck area of children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T to 12 and limits the length of drawstrings around the waist and bottom of such outerwear. Regarding this last point, the length of drawstrings around the waist and bottom of children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T to 16 is limited to three inches outside the drawstring channel when the garment is expanded to its fullest width. Such garments must be free of toggles, knots and other attachments at the free ends of drawstrings. Waist and bottom drawstrings in upper outerwear must be one continuous string and be bar tacked (i.e., stitched through to prevent the drawstring from being pulled through its channel).
For purposes of the standard the term “upper outerwear” is defined as “clothing, such as jackets and sweatshirts, generally intended to be worn on the exterior of other garments.” The document notes that this definition excludes underwear and inner layers but includes lightweight outerwear that is appropriate for use in warmer climates. Pants, shorts and skirts are not intended for the upper portion of the body and are therefore excluded from the scope of the standard. The term “drawstring” is defined as a “non-retractable cord, ribbon, or tape of any material to pull together Parts of upper outerwear to provide for closure.” The document clarifies that ties are considered drawstrings but belts are not. However, the CPSC indicates that if it determines that certain belt configurations or styles in children’s upper outerwear present a substantial product hazard it would seek corrective action under section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act or section 15 of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
The CPSC also recommends that alternative closures be used in children’s upper outerwear, including snaps, buttons, Velcro and elastic.