Draw Your Attention to Drawstrings

When the weather in the United States turns cold, parents’ thoughts naturally turn to the weather and many wonder whether or not their kid’s sweatshirts and jackets still fit from last year.

In 2014, September was a bad month in the world of recalls for kid’s outerwear. First, we saw Benetton recalling United Colors Boy’s Jackets, then recalls of the Pure Baby Organics Boy’s Hoodie and Active Apparel Boy’s Fission Zipper Hooded  followed shortly after on that same day in September. I don’t know about you, but I continue to be surprised that these coats and sweatshirts with banned closures are even brought to market in the first place. It’s not as though safety issues with drawstrings are new! They have been a problem for quite some time.

In 1996, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued the first guideline about drawstrings in children’s upper outerwear, notably pointing out the potential strangulation risk.  In 1997, those guidelines were incorporated on a voluntary basis. Then, in July 2011, based on the guidelines and the voluntary standard, the CPSC issued a new federal regulation.

In spite of all this, these sweatshirts still manage to find their way onto store shelves, and sometimes it happens more than once. Discount clothing retailer, Ross Stores, ended up with a $3.9 million fine for repeatedly, 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. However, they continued to sell various styles that included banned drawstrings between 2009 and 2012, and that resulted in a huge penalty and the implementation of a CPSC internal compliance program.

If you’re not a retailer, what does all this mean to you as a supplier or distributor of promotional products?

It is important to note that it is not just retailers, but also the manufacturers and importers that have to assess current product testing and CPSC reporting practices. It’s also important that they are fully understanding their obligations concerning their independent product safety compliance and reporting.

The safety of consumer products is receiving increased scrutiny from federal and state governments and the CPSC is considering increasing penalties throughout the distribution chain for violations of underlying regulatory and reporting requirements.

If you’d like to read more, please check out my column at Promo Marketing Blog

Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for more than 30 years. He’s a staunch advocate of consumer product safety and has a deep passion and belief regarding the issues surrounding compliance and corporate social responsibility. He is the executive director of Quality Certification Alliancethe industry’s only non-profit dedicated to helping suppliers provide safe and compliant products. Follow Jeff on Twitteror reach out to him at [email protected].

Photo Credit: photopin cc

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