Draw Your Attention to Drawstrings
I guess it has something to do with the time of year. The weather in much of the U.S. begins to turn cooler, and parents’ thoughts naturally turn to whether or not the kids’ sweatshirts and jackets from last year still fit.
Last month was a bad month in the world of recalls for kids’ outerwear. First we saw Benetton recalling United Colors Boy’s jackets, then the recalls of a Pure Baby Organics Boy’s Hoodie and Active Apparel Boy’s Fission Zipper Hooded Sweatshirts both occurred on the same day in September. I don’t know about you, but I continue to be surprised as to why these coats and sweatshirts are even brought to market with banned closures in the first place. It’s not as though issues with drawstrings are new news—they have long been problematic.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) first issued guidelines in 1996 about drawstrings in children's upper outerwear and the potential of strangulation. In 1997, those guidelines were incorporated into a voluntary standard. Then, in July 2011, based on the guidelines and voluntary standard, the CPSC issued a federal regulation. Yet, in spite of all this, these sweatshirts still manage to find their way onto store shelves--sometimes, more than once. Discount clothing retailer Ross Stores ended up with a $3.9 million fine for repeatedly and knowingly selling youth sweatshirts with drawstrings. Ross paid a civil fine in 2009 for failing to report children’s outerwear sold between 2006 and 2008, but then continued to sell various styles with banned drawstrings between 2009 and 2012, earning the huge penalty and a forced internal compliance program from the CPSC.
You’re not a retailer, so what does it mean to you as a supplier or distributor of promotional products?
The point is that not just retailers, but also manufacturers and importers also have to assess current product testing and CPSC reporting practices, and it’s critical that they know their obligations concerning their independent product safety compliance and reporting. As we have said here before, the safety of consumer products is receiving more scrutiny from federal and state governments and the CPSC is assessing higher penalties throughout the distribution chain for violations of underlying regulatory and reporting requirements.
Jeff is executive director of the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA). Prior to that, he was responsible for developing safe and compliant brand merchandise for Michelin. He has worked with brands in publishing, consumer products, broadcasting and film for over 30 years. Follow Jeff on Twitter, and QCA on Facebook.