Safety Standard for Operating Cords on Custom Window Coverings

CourtConsumer Product Safety Commission
Citation87 FR 1014
Publication Date07 January 2022
Record Number2021-27896
Federal Register, Volume 87 Issue 5 (Friday, January 7, 2022)
[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 5 (Friday, January 7, 2022)]
                [Proposed Rules]
                [Pages 1014-1059]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2021-27896]
                [[Page 1013]]
                Vol. 87
                Friday,
                No. 5
                January 7, 2022
                Part IIConsumer Product Safety Commission-----------------------------------------------------------------------16 CFR Parts 1112 and 1260Safety Standard for Operating Cords on Custom Window Coverings;
                Proposed Rule
                Federal Register / Vol. 87 , No. 5 / Friday, January 7, 2022 /
                Proposed Rules
                [[Page 1014]]
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                CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION
                16 CFR Parts 1112 and 1260
                [CPSC Docket No. CPSC-2013-0028]
                Safety Standard for Operating Cords on Custom Window Coverings
                AGENCY: Consumer Product Safety Commission.
                ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                SUMMARY: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has
                determined preliminarily that custom window coverings with accessible
                operating cords that are longer than 8 inches pose an unreasonable risk
                of strangulation to children 8 years old and younger. To address this
                risk of strangulation, the Commission proposes a rule under the
                Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) to require that operating cords on
                custom window coverings meet the same requirements as operating cords
                on stock window coverings, as set forth in the applicable voluntary
                standard. Thus, the rule proposes that operating cords on custom window
                coverings must be cordless, inaccessible, or 8 inches or shorter in
                length in any use position. If finalized, operating cords on custom
                window coverings would require testing and certification to the rule
                under section 14 of the CPSA. Moreover, operating cords on custom
                window coverings that meet the definition of a ``children's product''
                would require third party testing by a CPSC-accredited third party
                conformity assessment body. Accordingly, the rule also proposes to
                amend the Commission's regulation on requirements pertaining to third
                party conformity assessment bodies to add ``Safety Standard for
                Operating Cords on Custom Window Coverings'' to the list of rules that
                require third party testing.
                DATES: Written comments must be received by March 23, 2022.
                ADDRESSES: Direct comments related to the Paperwork Reduction Act
                aspects of the proposed rule to the Office of Information and
                Regulatory Affairs, the Office of Management and Budget, Attn: CPSC
                Desk Officer, fax to: 202-395-6974, or email
                [email protected]. Submit all other comments on the proposed
                rule, identified by Docket No. CPSC-2013-0028, by any of the following
                methods:
                 Electronic Submissions: Submit electronic comments to the Federal
                eRulemaking Portal at: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the
                instructions for submitting comments. CPSC typically does not accept
                comments submitted by electronic mail (email), except through https://www.regulations.gov. CPSC encourages you to submit electronic comments
                by using the Federal eRulemaking Portal, as described above.
                 Mail/Hand Delivery/Courier Written Submissions: Submit comments by
                mail/hand delivery/courier to: Division of the Secretariat, Consumer
                Product Safety Commission, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814;
                telephone: (301) 504-7479. Alternatively, as a temporary option during
                the COVID-19 pandemic, you can email such submissions to: cpsc.gov">[email protected]cpsc.gov.
                 Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and
                docket number for this notice. CPSC may post all comments without
                change, including any personal identifiers, contact information, or
                other personal information provided, to: https://www.regulations.gov.
                Do not submit electronically: Confidential business information, trade
                secret information, or other sensitive or protected information that
                you do not want to be available to the public. If you wish to submit
                such information, please submit it according to the instructions for
                mail/hand delivery/courier written submissions.
                 Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or
                comments received, go to: https:/www.regulations.gov, and insert the
                docket number, CPSC-2013-0028, into the ``Search'' box, and follow the
                prompts.
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rana Balci-Sinha, Director, Division
                of Human Factors, Directorate for Engineering Sciences, Office of
                Hazard Identification and Reduction, Consumer Product Safety
                Commission, National Product Testing and Evaluation Center, 5 Research
                Place, Rockville, MD 20850; telephone: 301-987-2584;
                cpsc.gov">[email protected]cpsc.gov.
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
                I. Introduction
                A. Overview of the Proposed Rule
                 The purpose of the proposed rule is to address the risk of
                strangulation to children 8 years old and younger associated with
                hazardous operating cords on custom window coverings.\1\ The Commission
                issues this notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) using its authorities
                in sections 7 and 9 of the CPSA, 15 U.S.C. 2056 and 2058, to create a
                new mandatory standard for operating cords on custom window coverings.
                Due to the ongoing fatal and nonfatal incidents associated with window
                covering cords, high severity of the outcomes (death and disability to
                children), proven technical feasibility of cordless products, the
                implementation of stronger operating cord requirements for stock window
                coverings already on the market, and the ineffectiveness of warnings
                and safety devices for this class of products, the Commission proposes
                to regulate operating cords on custom window coverings. The proposed
                rule would require operating cords on custom window coverings to meet
                identical requirements for operating cords on stock window coverings,
                as set forth in section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA A100.1--2018, American
                National Standard for Safety of Corded Window Covering Products (ANSI/
                WCMA-2018). The ANSI standard requires stock window coverings to have:
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                 \1\ On December 14, 2021, the Commission voted 4-0 to issue this
                notice of proposed rulemaking. Commissioner Feldman issued a
                statement in connection with his vote.
                 (1) No operating cords (cordless) (section 4.3.1.1);
                 (2) inaccessible operating cords (section 4.3.1.3); or
                 (3) operating cords shorter than 8 inches in any use position
                (section 4.3.1.2).
                 In a separate, concurrent rulemaking under section 15(j) of the
                CPSA, the Commission is proposing to deem a ``substantial product
                hazard'' (SPH), as defined in section 15(a)(2) of the CPSA: (1) The
                presence of hazardous operating cords on stock window coverings; (2)
                the presence of hazardous inner cords on stock and custom window
                coverings; or (3) the absence of a required manufacturer label. Both
                NPRs are based on information and analysis contained in CPSC staff's
                September 29, 2021, Staff Briefing Package: Notice of Proposed
                Rulemaking for Corded Window Coverings (Staff's NPR Briefing Package),
                available at: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/NPRs-Add-Window-Covering-Cords-to-Substantial-Product-Hazard-List-Establish-Safety-Standard-for-Operating-Cords-on-Custom-Window-Coverings-updated-10-29-2021.pdf?VersionId=HIM05bK3WDLRZrlNGogQLknhFvhtx3PD.
                B. Background and Statutory Authority
                 Window coverings are ``consumer products'' within the jurisdiction
                of the CPSC, and subject to regulation under the authority of the CPSA,
                because consumers use and enjoy window coverings in or around a
                permanent or temporary household or residence, and in schools. See 15
                U.S.C. 2052(a)(5). Section 7(a) of the CPSA authorizes the
                [[Page 1015]]
                Commission to promulgate a mandatory consumer product safety standard
                that sets forth performance or labeling requirements for a consumer
                product if such requirements are reasonably necessary to prevent or
                reduce an unreasonable risk of injury. 15 U.S.C. 2056(a). The proposed
                rule sets forth performance requirements for operating cords on custom
                window coverings. The proposed performance requirements would make
                operating cords on custom products meet the same requirements for stock
                window coverings in section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018, to prevent an
                unreasonable risk of injury, strangulation and death, to children 8
                years old and younger.
                 Section 7(b)(1) of the CPSA requires the Commission to rely on a
                voluntary standard, rather than promulgate a mandatory standard, when
                compliance with the voluntary standard would eliminate or adequately
                reduce the risk of injury associated with a product, and it is likely
                that products are in substantial compliance with the voluntary
                standard. 15 U.S.C. 2056(b)(1). As described in section II.E of this
                preamble, custom window coverings likely substantially comply with the
                voluntary standard, ANSI/WCMA-2018. However, section 4.3.2 of ANSI/
                WCMA-2018, which applies to custom window coverings, does not
                adequately address the risk of injury associated with operating cords
                on custom window coverings, because the ANSI standard allows operating
                cords on custom window coverings to be accessible to children, and to
                be longer than 8 inches, which presents an unreasonable risk of
                strangulation to children 8 years old and younger. CPSC staff advises
                that the operating cord requirements proposed in the NPR would address
                100 percent of the operating cord incidents associated with custom
                window coverings.
                 Section 9 of the CPSA specifies the procedure that the Commission
                must follow to issue a consumer product safety standard under section 7
                of the CPSA. In accordance with section 9, the Commission may commence
                rulemaking by issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR)
                or a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR). The Commission issued an ANPR
                for corded window coverings, including stock and custom products, in
                January 2015 (80 FR 2327 (January 16, 2015)). The Commission is moving
                forward with two NPRs because the voluntary standard now addresses the
                risk of injury for operating cords on stock window coverings, and inner
                cords on stock and custom window coverings. For the hazards addressed
                by the voluntary standard, the Commission is issuing a separate rule
                under section 15(j) of the CPSA, leaving for this NPR to address, under
                sections 7 and 9 of the CPSA, operating cords on custom window
                coverings.
                 Section 9 authorizes the Commission to issue an NPR, including the
                proposed rule and a preliminary regulatory analysis, in accordance with
                section 9(c) of the CPSA. We request comments regarding the risk of
                injury identified by the Commission, the regulatory alternatives being
                considered, and other possible alternatives for addressing the risk of
                injury. 15 U.S.C. 2058(c). The preliminary regulatory analysis must
                include:
                 A preliminary description of the potential benefits and
                costs of the rule, including benefits and costs that cannot be
                quantified, and the analysis must identify who is likely to receive the
                benefits and bear the costs;
                 a discussion of the reasons any standard or portion of a
                standard submitted to the Commission in response to the ANPR was not
                published by the Commission as the proposed rule or part of the
                proposed rule;
                 a discussion of the reasons for the Commission's
                preliminary determination that efforts submitted to the Commission in
                response to the ANPR to develop or modify a voluntary standard would
                not be likely, within a reasonable period of time, to result in a
                voluntary standard that would eliminate or adequately reduce the risk
                of injury addressed by the proposed rule; and
                 a description of alternatives to the proposed rule that
                the Commission considered and a brief explanation of the reason the
                alternatives were not chosen.
                 Id. Tab K of Staff's NPR Briefing Package, and section V of this
                preamble, provide the required preliminary regulatory analysis for a
                mandatory standard on operating cords for custom window coverings.
                 After issuing an NPR, the Commission will consider the comments
                received in response to the proposed rule and decide whether to issue a
                final rule, along with a final regulatory analysis. Id. 2058(c)-(f).
                The Commission also will provide an opportunity for interested persons
                to make oral presentations of the data, views, or arguments, in
                accordance with section 9(d)(2) of the CPSA. Id. 2058(d)(2).
                 According to section 9(f)(1) of the CPSA, before promulgating a
                consumer product safety rule, the Commission must consider, and make
                appropriate findings to be included in the rule, on the following
                issues:
                 The degree and nature of the risk of injury that the rule
                is designed to eliminate or reduce;
                 The approximate number of consumer products subject to the
                rule;
                 The need of the public for the products subject to the
                rule and the probable effect the rule will have on utility, cost, or
                availability of such products; and
                 The means to achieve the objective of the rule while
                minimizing adverse effects on competition, manufacturing, and
                commercial practices.
                 Id. 2058(f)(1). At the NPR stage, the Commission is making these
                findings preliminarily, to allow the public to comment on the findings.
                Section XIII of the preamble contains the Commission's preliminary
                findings.
                 Under section 9(f)(3) of the CPSA, to issue a final rule, the
                Commission must find that the rule is ``reasonably necessary to
                eliminate or reduce an unreasonable risk of injury associated with such
                product'' and that issuing the rule is in the public interest. Id.
                2058(f)(3)(A)&(B). Additionally, if a voluntary standard addressing the
                risk of injury has been adopted and implemented, the Commission must
                find that:
                 The voluntary standard is not likely to eliminate or
                adequately reduce the risk of injury, or
                 Substantial compliance with the voluntary standard is
                unlikely.
                 Id. 2058(f)(3)(D). The Commission also must find that the expected
                benefits of the rule bear a reasonable relationship to its costs, and
                that the rule imposes the least burdensome requirements that would
                adequately reduce the risk of injury. Id. 2058(f)(3)(E)&(F). Section
                XIII of the preamble contains the Commission's preliminary findings on
                these additional requirements, so that the Commission can collect
                public comment.
                C. Product Description
                1. Overview of Window Covering Products
                 Window coverings comprise a wide range of products, including
                shades, blinds, curtains, and draperies. Generally, the industry
                considers blinds to be ``hard'' window coverings, composed of slats or
                vanes, and considers shades to be ``soft'' window coverings, composed
                of a continuous roll of material. Both blinds and shades may have inner
                cords that distribute forces to cause a motion, such as raising,
                lowering, or rotating the window covering to achieve a consumer's
                desired level of light control. Manufacturers use inner cords on
                [[Page 1016]]
                window coverings to open and close blinds and shades, using a variety
                of inputs, including traditional operating cords, motors, or direct-
                lift of the bottom rail of the product, to manipulate inner cords.
                Curtains and draperies do not contain inner cords, but consumers can
                operate curtains and drapes using a continuous loop operating cord or a
                wand.
                 A cord or loop used by consumers to manipulate a window covering is
                called an ``operating cord'' and may be in the form of a single cord,
                multiple cords, or continuous loops. ``Cordless'' window coverings are
                products designed to function without an operating cord, but they may
                contain inner cords. Figures 1 through 6 explain window covering
                terminology and show examples of different types of window coverings.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.016
                [[Page 1017]]
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.017
                 Figure 1 shows a horizontal blind containing inner cords, operating
                cords, and tilt cords. Figure 2 shows a roll-up shade containing
                lifting loops and operating cords. Figure 3 shows a cellular shade with
                inner cords between two layers of fabric and operating cords. Figure 4
                shows a vertical blind with a looped operating cord to traverse the
                blind and a looped bead chain to tilt the vanes. Figure 5 shows a Roman
                shade with inner cords that run on the back side of the shade and
                operating cords. Figure 6 is a horizontal blind that is marketed as
                ``cordless'' because it has no operating cords, but it still contains
                inner cords.
                 Materials used to make shades and blinds include fabric, wood or
                faux wood, polymers, such as vinyl, and woven materials, such as
                bamboo. Window covering products are mounted either inside or outside
                the window frame and can be customized to fit non-standard-sized
                windows, or for operation when the window frame is
                [[Page 1018]]
                inaccessible, using tools or mobility devices, such as ladders, stools,
                and lifts. Some window covering types, such as curtains/drapes, shades,
                and horizontal blinds, can also be customized to fit unusual window
                shapes, like circles, ovals, trapezoids, and diamonds, but operation
                may be limited.
                 Window covering operating systems can vary slightly by window
                covering type, but all operating systems fit into one of two general
                categories: Corded or cordless.
                2. Corded Window Coverings
                 ``Traditional'' or ``corded'' shades and blinds generally have
                cords located inside the product (inner cord), to the side of the
                product (operating cord or outer cord), or both. The inner cords
                between the head rail and bottom rail lift the horizontal slats to
                adjust light coming through, as in the case of horizontal blinds, or
                lift fabric and similar materials, as in the case of Roman or pleated
                shades. The inner cords may be exposed from the front, rear, or bottom
                of the window covering, or they can be rendered inaccessible, depending
                upon how the product is constructed. Horizontal blinds and pleated
                shades generally have two inner cords, one on each side of the blind;
                but products manufactured for wider windows may require more than two
                inner cords to be operational.
                 The outer cord or operating cord allows the user to raise, lower,
                open and close, rotate, or tilt the window covering. Operating cord
                systems generally fall into one of three categories: (1) Standard; (2)
                single cord; and (3) continuous loop. The operating cord in a standard
                operating system consists of two or more cords and often includes a
                cord locking device to allow the user to set the height of the window
                covering. In a single cord operating system, the user can manipulate
                the window covering with a pull cord. The operating cord in a
                continuous loop operating system uses a single piece of cord or a
                beaded metal or plastic chain that is secured to a wall and operates
                like a pulley. For example, pulling the rear half of the loop will
                raise the shade, while pulling the front half of the loop will lower
                the shade.
                 Although operating systems can vary, some products are more
                commonly coupled with specific systems. Cellular and pleated shades can
                have any of the three operating cord systems; in contrast, roller and
                Roman shades mostly use a standard or continuous loop system.
                Horizontal blinds are generally coupled with a standard operating
                system, while vertical blinds operate by continuous loop. Some curtains
                and drapes operate by continuous loop along with a traverse rod, which
                are also within the scope of the rule. However, many curtains and
                drapes are stationary and do not have operating systems; these products
                are not within the scope of the rule.
                3. Cordless Window Products
                 Virtually every window covering type is available with a
                ``cordless'' operating system, which means it has been designed to
                function without an operating cord.\2\ Cordless window coverings may
                require inner cords, but these can be, and typically are, made
                inaccessible through a variety of approaches. In lieu of an operating
                cord, cordless operating systems can be manual or motorized. A manual
                operating system allows users to lift or lower the window covering with
                a plastic handle or directly by hand.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \2\ The availability of alternatives to corded window coverings
                may sometimes be constrained due to size and weight limitations. See
                Lee, 2014. Through market research, staff found several examples of
                cordless blinds that are made with a maximum height of 84'' and a
                maximum width of 144'' (Tab G of Staff's NPR Briefing Package).
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 A motorized operating system uses a motor and control system to
                manipulate the window covering, such as a remote control or wall
                switch. Installation of cordless window coverings that are motorized is
                more complicated than manual systems because motorized systems require
                a power source. The power sources for motorized systems, in order of
                installation complexity are battery-powered, DC plug, solar-powered,
                and what is commonly called ``hardwired.''
                 The simplest power source for a motorized cordless product is a
                battery system, which is typically installed near the head rail in a
                circular tube called a battery wand. Replacement of the batteries can
                require additional tools, like a screwdriver, step ladder, or stool.
                Most manufacturers recommend lithium-ion batteries for use in their
                systems, due to the increased temperature level around window
                coverings.\3\ A DC plug adapter can also be used as a power source and
                is easy to install. A window covering with a DC plug adapter can be
                plugged into any standard electrical outlet. Electrical outlets aren't
                typically installed near the top of a window. Accordingly, DC plugs may
                require consumers to use extension cords near the window covering to
                reach an available outlet, which some consumers may find unsightly.
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                 \3\ Window coverings receive direct sunlight for large portions
                of the day, resulting in higher surface temperatures that can cause
                the failure of non-lithium-type batteries.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Solar-powered, motorized window coverings use a rechargeable
                battery wand combined with a solar panel to charge the batteries.
                Installation is about as complex as a typical battery system, but
                placement of the solar panel is critical to the operation of the window
                covering. Newer, more advanced versions of solar-powered window
                coverings can power themselves, while also providing renewable energy.
                These products are less mature than others and are generally much more
                expensive.
                 The most complex to install power source for motorized systems is
                to wire the window covering directly into the home, commonly called
                ``hardwiring.'' The industry does not regard hardwiring window
                coverings to be a task that consumers can complete. Typically,
                electricians are required to install these products, which creates
                higher installation costs for consumers.
                4. Other Types of Safety Devices
                 Rather than eliminate the operating cord entirely, some
                manufacturers offer other devices to isolate the operating cord on
                custom window coverings. These alternatives include, among others:
                Retractable cord devices, cord cleats, cord shrouds, cord condensers,
                and wands. Tab I in Staff's NPR Briefing Package contains a more
                detailed description of these devices and how to operate each. As
                described in section I.C.3 of this preamble, and Tab I of Staff's NPR
                Briefing Package, these devices are inadequate to address the risk of
                injury associated with operating cords on custom window products.
                 All of these safety devices are currently available for purchase by
                consumers, or provided by manufacturers, on custom window coverings,
                but offerings vary by manufacturer. A retractable cord device uses a
                spring-loaded spool to adjust the length of the pull cord. After the
                consumer adjusts the pull cord to raise or lower the window covering,
                the retractable cord device automatically retracts the pull cord back
                to the bottom of the headrail in an attempt to keep the pull cord out
                of reach of small children.
                 Cord cleats are generally composed of transparent or white plastic
                material in a long, rectangular shape. To be effective, two cord cleats
                must be installed or anchored to the wall near the window covering at a
                height out of reach of children. Cord cleats are used in conjunction
                with operating cords that dangle below the bottom of the window
                covering. The consumer must wrap the operating cord(s) in an S-shape
                around
                [[Page 1019]]
                the cord cleats each time the window covering is raised or lowered.
                 A cord shroud encloses the pull cord or continuous cord loops for
                various types of blinds and shades with a rigid material, usually
                plastic. Although the pull cord or continuous loop cords are rendered
                inaccessible, the consumer can use the cord shroud to raise and lower
                the window covering. Cord condensers are a small plastic device that
                the consumer feeds the multiple cords into to condense the pull cord to
                a single pull cord below where the device is installed. Wands are
                simple pieces of plastic that the consumer rotates or pulls to operate
                the window covering in place of a cord.
                5. ``Stock'' and ``Custom'' Window Coverings Defined in the NPR
                 This NPR relies on the definitions of window coverings and their
                features as set forth in the ANSI/WCMA-2018 standard, which currently
                requires ``stock'' and ``custom'' window coverings to meet different
                sets of operating cord requirements. For the NPR, the definition of a
                ``stock window covering'' is based on the definition of ``Stock Blinds,
                Shades, and Shadings'' in section 3, definition 5.02 of ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                A ``stock widow covering'' is a completely or substantially fabricated
                product prior to being distributed in commerce and as a specific stock-
                keeping unit (SKU). Even when the seller, manufacturer, or distributor
                modifies a pre-assembled product, by adjusting to size, attaching the
                top rail or bottom rail, or tying cords to secure the bottom rail, the
                product is still considered ``stock,'' as defined in ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                Moreover, under the ANSI standard, online sales of a window covering,
                or the size of the order, such as multifamily housing orders, do not
                make the product a non-stock product. ANSI/WCMA-2018 provides these
                examples to clarify that, as long as the product is ``substantially
                fabricated,'' subsequent changes to the product do not change its
                categorization from ``stock'' to ``custom.''
                 The NPR defines a ``custom window covering'' using the same
                definition of ``Custom Blinds, Shades, and Shadings'' found in section
                3, definition 5.01 of ANSI/WCMA-2018, which is ``any window covering
                that is not classified as a stock window covering.'' We explain
                additional definitions in the NPR, including ``operating cord,'' ``cord
                shroud,'' and ``rigid cord shroud,'' in section IV.A of this preamble.
                6. The Window Covering Industry
                 Based on 2017 data, 1,898 firms were categorized as blinds and
                shades manufacturers and retailers (Census Bureau, 2020). Of these,
                about 1,840 firms (302 manufacturers and 1,538 retailers) are small. In
                2020, three manufacturers accounted for almost 38 percent of dollar
                sales in the U.S. window coverings market (Euromonitor 2021a). Only one
                of these manufacturers is a publicly held firm. In 2020, the largest
                global manufacturer and distributor of window coverings reported
                worldwide net sales of $3,543 million, with North American window
                covering sales reported as $1,703 million. The second largest firm is
                privately held, and annual reports are not publicly available.
                Estimates of this firm's revenue indicate annual U.S. window covering
                revenue in 2020 of approximately $728 million (Euromonitor 2021a). The
                third firm is also privately held, and estimates indicate U.S. window
                covering revenues in 2020 of approximately $88 million (Euromonitor
                2021a). The remainder of the total market size of $6.6 billion is
                attributed to firms that each account for less than 3 percent market
                share (Euromonitor 2021b).
                 A recent study conducted for CPSC (D+R, 2021) estimated that in
                2019, approximately 139 million residential window coverings were
                shipped in the United States. Most of these shipments, 59.2 percent,
                were blinds, while 25.4 percent were shades. When comparing unit sales
                data to revenue data, CPSC staff found that while custom products
                account for approximately 44 percent of unit sales, a disproportionate
                amount of revenue is attributable to custom window covering products.
                For example, Roman shades, which are sold almost always as custom
                window covering products, account for 1.9 percent of annual sales in
                2019, but generated revenues equal to 2.3 percent of the total.
                6. Retail Prices
                 Retail prices for window coverings vary, depending on the type of
                the product and retailer. Stock products for common-size window
                coverings can be purchased at a variety of retailers, such as big box
                and home furnishing stores, and e-commerce retailers, such as Amazon
                and Wayfair. The type of material and brand affect the price. According
                to a study conducted for CPSC by D+R International (2021),\4\ weighted
                average prices for window coverings range from about $54 to $94 for
                shades and from about $25 to $250 for blinds.\5\ Prices for vertical
                blinds are generally lower than the prices of horizontal blinds; prices
                for roller shades are slightly lower than the prices of Roman and
                cellular shades (D+R International, 2021).\6\
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                 \4\ CPSC contracted with D+R International, which interviewed
                window covering manufacturers and component manufacturers to collect
                anecdotal information on the distribution of stock and custom
                product sales and the impact of compliance with the voluntary
                standard (D+R International, 2021).
                 \5\ The range for shades is based on average prices for cellular
                shades, roller shades, Roman shades, and pleated shades. The range
                for blinds is based on average prices for vinyl blinds, metal
                blinds, faux-wood blinds, wood blinds, and vertical blinds.
                 \6\ The D+R review of prices and product availability found that
                stock product prices are generally lower than custom products and
                that cordless lift systems resulted in an increase in price, except
                in the case of vertical blinds.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Consumers can purchase custom-sized and custom-designed window
                coverings from mass merchants, specialty retailers, e-commerce
                retailers, and in-home consultation firms. Custom coverings include
                uncommon window covering sizes, such as extremely small (e.g., 9 inches
                wide x 13 inches high), extremely large (e.g., 96 inches wide x 96
                inches high), and other unusual sizes. Retail prices for custom-made
                window coverings range from $25 to $900, but prices can be as high as
                $5,000.\7\ Typically, retail prices for custom products exceed the
                price of stock products of similar size and type. Retailers often
                suggest in-home measuring and evaluation to estimate the price for
                custom-designed products, because non-standard sizes or non-standard
                window shapes, or motorized lift systems can require professional
                installation. Prices for customized window coverings, on average, are
                higher than similar stock products sold by mass retailers.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \7\ Based on firms' websites, retail prices for custom-made
                Roman shades can range from $300 to $5,000.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                7. Window Coverings in Use
                 CPSC staff created an estimate of custom window coverings in use
                using multiple data sources. Estimates for the year 2019, are developed
                from (1) estimates of U.S. residential housing units; (2) estimates of
                the number of window coverings per housing unit; (3) estimates of the
                proportion of window coverings in use, by type; (4) estimates of the
                expected product life of window coverings; and (5) estimates of the
                proportion of corded custom window coverings sold by type. Based on
                U.S. Census estimates, approximately 124.1 million residential housing
                units existed in the United States during the year 2019 (Census Bureau,
                2019). Additionally, the D+R (2020) study estimated an average of about
                8.17 window coverings per housing unit.\8\
                [[Page 1020]]
                The product of the number of housing units and the average number of
                window coverings per housing unit suggests that about 1,014 million
                window coverings may have been in use in the United States (124.1
                million housing units x 8.17 window coverings per housing unit) during
                2019.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \8\ The D+R estimate uses a 2013 market characterization study
                completed for the U.S. Department of Energy. The study included a
                survey of 2,100 households in 13 cities across the United States to
                collect a representative sample of data on household
                characteristics, including number of windows, location of windows,
                the types of window coverings installed, and operation.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 The distribution of the estimated 1,014 million window coverings in
                use is created using the 2019 share of custom product sales to total
                for each aggregate category.\9\ Application of the share of custom
                product sales to the window coverings in use estimate, amounts to
                approximately 111 million custom horizontal blinds, 213 million custom
                shades, 10 million custom vertical blinds, and 179 million custom
                curtains or drapery.\10\ Applying an estimate of 65 percent of custom
                window covering products in use having operating and/or accessible
                cords equates to an approximate total of 332.6 million corded custom
                window coverings in use. As shown in Figure 7 below, staff estimates
                that approximately 72 million corded custom horizontal blinds, 138.2
                million corded custom shades, 6.4 million corded custom vertical
                blinds, and 116.1 million corded custom curtains or drapery are in use
                as of 2019.\11\
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \9\ Installed base data for window covering products does not
                differentiate between custom or stock products. A point estimate
                created from one year of sales data may distort product in use
                estimates if there are large fluctuations in sales due to consumer
                preferences from year to year or if the expected product life of
                custom products is substantially different than stock products.
                 \10\ Interior shutters are included in the total 1,014 million
                window covering in use estimate, but because these products are out
                of scope for the rule, they are not included in the regulatory
                analysis later in this report.
                 \11\ This estimate has an implicit assumption that the share of
                annual sales will equate to a similar share of product in use.
                Changes in consumer preferences over time, and differences in the
                expected product life between custom and stock products, could
                result in significant deviations in this estimate.
                 Figure 7--Custom Window Coverings in Use
                 [2019]
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Custom product
                 Product category Total product share of sales Custom product Corded custom
                 in use (2019) (%) in use product in use
                [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
                 [col. 2 x col. [col. 4 x 0.65]
                 3]
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Horizontal Blinds, All Types................ 340.4 32.52 110.7 72.0
                Shades, All Types........................... 300.9 70.66 212.6 138.2
                Vertical Blinds............................. 168.2 5.82 9.8 6.4
                Curtains & Drapes........................... 178.6 100.00 178.6 116.1
                 -------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Total................................... 1014 ............... 511.7 332.6
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                [[Page 1021]]
                D. Hazards Associated With Window Covering Cords
                 Window coverings, depending on the type of accessible cords,
                including operating cords (meaning pull cords and continuous loop
                cords), inner cords, and lifting loops, can pose strangulation hazards
                to children when they are accessible and long enough to wrap around a
                child's neck. Figures 8, 9, and 10 below depict the strangulation
                hazard for different window covering cord types.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.018
                 Children can strangle from mechanical compression of the neck when
                they place a window covering cord around their neck. Strangulation due
                to mechanical compression of the neck is a complex process resulting
                from multiple mechanisms and pathways that involve both obstruction of
                the airway passage and occlusion of blood vessels in the neck.
                Strangulation can lead to serious injuries with permanent debilitating
                outcomes or death. If sustained lateral pressure occurs at a level
                resulting in vascular occlusion, strangulation can occur when a child's
                head or neck becomes entangled in any position, even in situations
                where the body is fully or partially supported.
                 Strangulation is a form of asphyxia that can be partial (hypoxia),
                when there is an inadequate oxygen supply to the lungs, or total, when
                there is complete impairment of oxygen transport to tissues. A
                reduction in the delivery of oxygen to tissues can result in
                [[Page 1022]]
                permanent, irreversible damage. Experimental studies show that only 2
                kg (4.4 lbs.) of pressure on the neck may occlude the jugular vein
                (Brouardel, 1897); and 3kg to 5 kg (7-11 lbs.) may occlude the common
                carotid arteries (Brouardel, 1897 and Polson, 1973). Minimal
                compression of any of these vessels can lead to unconsciousness within
                15 seconds and death in 2 to 3 minutes, (Digeronimo and Mayes, 1994;
                Hoff, 1978; lserson, 1984; Polson, 1973).
                 The vagus nerve is also located in the neck near the jugular vein
                and carotid artery. The vagus nerve is responsible for maintaining a
                constant heart rate. Compression of the vagus nerve can result in
                cardiac arrest due to mechanical stimulation of the carotid sinus-vagal
                reflex. In addition, the functioning of the carotid sinuses may be
                affected by compression of the blood vessels. Stimulation of the
                sinuses can result in a decrease in heart rate, myocardial
                contractility, cardiac output, and systemic arterial pressure in the
                absence of airway blockage.
                 Strangulation proceeding along one or more of these pathways can
                progress rapidly to anoxia, associated cardiac arrest, and death. As
                seen in the CPSC data (Wanna-Nakamura, 2014), and in the published
                literature, neurological damage may range from amnesia to a long-term
                vegetative state. Continued deterioration of the nervous system can
                lead to death (Howell and Gully, 1996; Medalia et al., 1991).
                 Based on CPSC staff's review of the incidents in section I.E of
                this preamble, and Tab A of Staff's NPR Briefing Package, 16 of the 194
                victims required hospitalization; six survived a hypoxic-ischemic
                episode or were pulseless and in full cardiac arrest when found,
                suffered severe neurological sequalae, ranging from loss of memory to a
                long-term or permanent vegetative state, requiring tracheotomy and
                gastrointestinal tube feeding. One victim, who remained hospitalized
                for 72 days, was released from the hospital with 75 percent permanent
                brain damage and is now confined to a bed.
                 Because a preexisting loop acts as a noose when a child's neck is
                inserted, and death can occur within minutes of a child losing footing,
                CPSC staff concluded that head insertion into a preexisting loop poses
                a higher risk of injury than when a child wraps a cord around his or
                her neck. However, both scenarios have been demonstrated to be
                hazardous and have led to fatal outcomes, according to CPSC data.
                E. Risk of Injury
                 The Commission's 2015 ANPR on Window Coverings presented incident
                data covering the period 1996 through 2012. 80 FR 2327, 2332 (Jan. 16,
                2015). Since then, WCMA published the revised voluntary standard for
                window coverings, ANSI/WCMA-2018. For products that comply, ANSI/WCMA-
                2018 has removed hazardous operating cords and inner cords from stock
                window coverings and removed hazardous inner cords for custom window
                coverings. The incident data demonstrate that regardless of whether a
                product is categorized as stock or custom, children are exposed to the
                same risk of injury from accessible window covering cords.
                 CPSC staff reviewed the data related to window coverings from 2009
                through 2020.\12\ Some of the data sources relied upon in this analysis
                do not have data for 2020 available yet; for those sources, staff
                included data for the latest available year, 2019. The following
                analysis distinguishes between stock and custom window coverings,
                whenever feasible. National estimates of deaths and injuries involving
                window covering strangulations among children under 5 years of age are
                associated with all types of window coverings, because the available
                information does not allow the CPSC to distinguish product subtypes.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \12\ CPSC's incident search focused on fatal and near-miss
                strangulations suffered by young children due to window covering
                cords. Whenever feasible, staff selected the time frame to be 2009
                through 2020. CPSC staff searched three databases for identification
                of window covering cord incidents: The Consumer Product Safety Risk
                Management System (CPSRMS), the National Electronic Injury
                Surveillance System (NEISS), and the Multiple Cause of Deaths data
                file. The first two sources are CPSC-maintained databases. The
                Multiple Cause of Deaths data file is available from the National
                Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The appendix at the end of this
                memorandum details information about the CPSC data sources and the
                selection criteria used for this data search.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                1. Incident Data From CPSC Databases
                 Based on newspaper clippings, consumer complaints, death
                certificates purchased from states, medical examiners' reports,
                hospital emergency department-treated injury reports, and in-depth
                investigation reports, CPSC found a total of 194 reported fatal and
                near-miss strangulations on window covering cords that occurred among
                children 8 years old and younger from January 2009 through December
                2020. These 194 incidents do not constitute a statistical sample of
                known probability and do not necessarily include all window covering
                cord-related strangulation incidents that occurred during that period.
                However, these 194 incidents do provide at least a minimum number for
                such incidents during that time frame.
                 Table 1a provides the breakdown of the incidents by year. Because
                reporting is ongoing, the number of incidents presented here may change
                in the future. Given that these reports are anecdotal, and reporting is
                incomplete, CPSC strongly discourages drawing any inferences based on
                the year-to-year increase or decrease shown in the reported data.
                 Table 1a--Reported Fatal and Near-Miss Strangulation Incidents Involving Window Covering Cords Among Children
                 Eight Years and Younger 2009-2020
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Number of reported incidents
                 --------------------------------------------------------
                 Incident year Fatal Near-miss
                 Total strangulations strangulations
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                2009................................................... 48 14 34
                2010................................................... 31 11 20
                2011................................................... 10 6 4
                2012................................................... 17 8 9
                2013................................................... 9 2 7
                2014................................................... 17 12 5
                2015................................................... 9 7 2
                2016................................................... 17 13 4
                2017................................................... 9 5 4
                2018................................................... 8 4 4
                2019 *................................................. 11 4 7
                [[Page 1023]]
                
                2020 *................................................. 8 3 5
                 --------------------------------------------------------
                 Total.............................................. 194 89 105
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Source: CPSC epidemiological databases CPSRMS and NEISS.
                Note: * indicates data collection is ongoing.
                 Table 1b expands on Table 1a to display the distribution of the
                annual incidents by severity of incidents and type of window coverings
                involved. CPSC staff identified 50 of 194 incident window coverings (26
                percent) to be stock products, and 35 of the 194 (18 percent) were
                identified as custom products; CPSC staff could not identify the window
                covering type in the remaining 109 of the 194 (56 percent) incidents.
                 Table 1b--Reported Fatal and Near-Miss Strangulation Incidents Involving Stock/Custom/Unknown Types of Window
                 Covering Cords Among Children Eight Years and Younger 2009-2020
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Reported incidents by window covering type
                 ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Incident year Stock (fatal/ Custom (fatal/ Unknown (fatal/
                 nonfatal) nonfatal) nonfatal) All
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                2009................................... 20 (4/16) 7 (2/5) 21 (8/13) 48
                2010................................... 10 (3/7) 7 (2/5) 14 (6/8) 31
                2011................................... 2 (1/1) 4 (3/1) 4 (2/2) 10
                2012................................... 1 (1/0) 5 (1/4) 11 (6/5) 17
                2013................................... 2 (1/1) 3 (1/2) 4 (0/4) 9
                2014................................... 3 (2/1) 2 (1/1) 12 (9/3) 17
                2015................................... 4 (4/0) 1 (1/0) 4 (2/2) 9
                2016................................... 5 (3/2) 4 (3/1) 8 (7/1) 17
                2017................................... 2 (1/1) 1 (0/1) 6 (4/2) 9
                2018................................... ................. 1 (0/1) 7 (4/3) 8
                2019 *................................. 1(0/1) ................. 10 (4/6) 11
                2020 *................................. ................. ................. 8 (3/5) 8
                 ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Total.............................. 50 (20/30) 35 (14/21) 109 (55/54) 194
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Source: CPSC epidemiological databases CPSRMS and NEISS.
                Note: * indicates data collection is ongoing.
                 Eighty-nine of the 194 incidents (46 percent) reported a fatality.
                Among the nonfatal incidents, 15 involved hospitalizations (8 percent).
                The long-term outcomes of these 15 injuries varied from a scar around
                the neck, to quadriplegia, to permanent brain damage. One additional
                child was treated and transferred to another hospital; the final
                outcome of this patient is unknown. In addition, 75 incidents (39
                percent) involved less-severe injuries, some requiring medical
                treatment, but not hospitalization. In the remaining 14 incidents (7
                percent), a child became entangled in a window covering cord, but was
                able to disentangle from the cord and escape injury. Overall, among the
                incidents with gender information available, 66 percent of the children
                involved were males, while 34 percent were females. One incident did
                not report the gender of the child.
                (a) Distribution of Reported Incidents by Window Covering and
                Associated Cord Types
                 Based on CPSC staff's review of the incident data, listed below are
                the most common types of window coverings among the 194 reported
                incidents, along with the types of cords associated with each:
                 Horizontal Blinds (includes Venetian and mini blinds):
                Associated cords: Continuous loop cord/beaded chain (free-standing,
                i.e., not mounted on a tension device), inner cord, pull cord (with
                loops or long cords), and tilt cord;
                 Vertical Blinds: Associated cords: Continuous loop cord/
                beaded chain (free-standing);
                 Roman Shades: Associated cords: Continuous loop cord/
                beaded chain (free-standing), inner cord, and pull cord (with loops or
                long cords);
                 Roller Shades: Associated cords: Continuous loop cord/
                beaded chain (free-standing);
                 Roll-Up Shades: Associated cords: Pull cord (with loops or
                long cords) and lifting loop;
                 Other Shades (includes pleated, cellular-honeycomb):
                Associated cords: Continuous loop cord/beaded chain (free-standing) and
                pull cord (with loops or long cords);
                 Curtains/Draperies: Associated cords: Continuous loop
                cord/beaded chain (free-standing).
                (b) Incident Breakdown--Stock and Custom Window Coverings
                 CPSC staff definitively identified 50 of the 194 incidents that
                involved stock window coverings in the period from 2009 through 2020.
                Of the 50 incidents, 64 percent involved horizontal blinds; 28 percent
                involved Roman shades; 4 percent involved roller shades; and 2 percent
                involved roll-up shades and vertical blinds.
                [[Page 1024]]
                 CPSC staff definitively identified 35 of the 194 incidents that
                involved custom window coverings. Of the 35 incidents, 51 percent
                involved horizontal blinds; 17 percent involved Roman shades; and 9
                percent involved roller shades. Other shades, such as cellular and
                pleated shades, together accounted for 11 percent of the incidents. Six
                percent involved vertical blinds. For the remaining 6 percent of the
                incidents involving custom products, staff did not have sufficient
                information to determine the type of window covering. Table 2 provides
                cross-tabulation of the incidents by window covering type and the
                associated cord type involved in these 35 incidents.
                 Table 2--Distribution of Reported Incidents by Types of Window Coverings and Associated Cords Among Custom
                 Products: 2009-2020
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Continuous
                 Pull loop cord/ Inner Lifting Tilt
                 cord beaded cord loop cord Unknown Total (%)
                 chain
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Horizontal............................ 16 2 ....... ........ ....... ......... 18 (51%)
                Roman................................. 1 2 3 ........ ....... ......... 6 (17%)
                Roller................................ ....... 3 ....... ........ ....... ......... 3 (9%)
                Other Shades.......................... 1 3 ....... ........ ....... ......... 4 (11%)
                Vertical.............................. ....... 2 ....... ........ ....... ......... 2 (6%)
                Unknown............................... ....... ........... ....... ........ ....... 2 2 (6%)
                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Total............................. 18 12 3 ........ ....... 2 35 (100%)
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Source: CPSC databases CPSRMS and NEISS. Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.
                 For most of the reported incidents (109 out of 194), CPSC staff did
                not have enough information available to determine if the window
                covering was a stock or custom product. Among these reported incidents,
                32 percent involved horizontal blinds; 7 percent involved vertical
                blinds; 5 percent involved roll-up shades; roller shades and Roman
                shades were each involved in 4 percent of the incidents; and draperies
                and other shades (pleated/cellular) were each involved in 3 percent of
                the incidents. For a large proportion, 43 percent, CPSC staff could not
                determine the type of window covering based on the available data.
                (c) Distribution of Fatal Incidents by Window Covering and Associated
                Cord Types
                 Of the 194 reported incidents, 89 involved a fatality. Of the 89
                deaths, 43 involved horizontal window coverings; 10 involved vertical
                window coverings; and 7 involved Roman shades. For 13 fatalities, staff
                does not know the window covering type. When separated by the known
                stock versus custom products, horizontal blinds were involved in the
                most fatalities. Figure 11 shows the breakouts by window covering types
                for all 89 reported fatalities, as well as among the known stock and
                custom products separately. Figure 11 also illustrates the distribution
                of these fatal incidents by types of window coverings.
                [[Page 1025]]
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.019
                (d) Most Common Cord Types and Associated Hazards Resulting in
                Fatalities
                 Whether considering stock, custom, or unknown-if-stock-or-custom
                products, CPSC found that the pull/operating cord system is the single
                most hazardous scenario among the reported fatal incidents. Thirty-nine
                of the 89 (44 percent) fatalities involved a child getting entangled in
                such pull cords; continuous loops were next, with 23 of the 89 (26
                percent) fatalities. Inner cords ranked next, accounting for 7 of the
                89 (8 percent) fatalities.
                 (i) Pull Cords: In 37 of the 39 known pull cord fatalities, the
                pull cords were components of horizontal blinds. Of these 39 deaths, 38
                occurred before implementation of the 2018 voluntary standard affecting
                stock products. Although reporting is ongoing, so far, one fatality has
                been reported in 2019, but none in 2020. Among the 39 fatalities, CPSC
                identified 7 incidents involving custom products, and 12 involving
                stock products; staff could not differentiate the remaining 20
                incidents' window coverings in terms of being stock or custom products.
                Hence, the effects, if any, of the 2018 voluntary standard on these
                products have yet to be reflected in the data.
                 A closer look at pull cord-related incidents revealed several ways
                in which children have strangled. Figure 12 presents the distribution
                of the pull cord-related fatalities by the common modes of
                entanglement.
                 Loops created by knotted or tangled cord: CPSC's review
                revealed that before the incidents, the pull cords had been tied
                together, or had been coiled and tucked away (out of children's reach),
                but later became accessible. When pull cords were tied together, a loop
                was created above the knot where the cords were tied, and that is where
                the child later became entangled. When the cords were coiled, the cords
                also became tangled and created a loop, which later acted as a noose.
                Among all 39 pull-cord-related fatal incidents, 18 out of 39 (46
                percent) occurred on loops created by knotted or tangled cords.
                 One or more long cords that the child wrapped around their
                neck: In these scenarios, the child had wrapped the long pull cord(s)
                multiple times around the neck. When the child fell, or tried to pull
                away from the window covering, the cord pulled back, causing the child
                to strangle or nearly strangle. Among all pull cord-related fatal
                incidents, this category included 11 of the 39 (28 percent) pull cord
                fatalities.
                 Loop above a single tassel or a stop ball of the cord:
                Some pull cords consist of multiple cords that hang from the window
                covering's head rail and are joined at a point, by a plastic or wooden
                tassel, or by a stop ball. In such configurations, a loop exists above
                the tassel. In the cases reviewed, CPSC determined that these loops,
                when accessible to a child, acted as a noose where the child was
                caught. Four of the 39 (10 percent) pull cord-related fatal incidents
                involved this scenario.
                [[Page 1026]]
                 Pull cord tied to an object: CPSC determined that in one
                of the 39 (3 percent) pull cord-related fatal incidents, pull cords
                were tied to a cord cleat, creating a u-shape on the cords where the
                child was strangled.
                 Unknown manner: Five of the 39 (13 percent) pull cord-
                related fatal incidents did not report sufficient information to allow
                CPSC staff to determine the manner in which the child was entangled.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.020
                 (ii) Continuous Loop Cords: CPSC identified continuous loop cords
                or beaded chains that were not mounted with a tension device or that
                broke loose from a tension device at the time of the incident, to be
                the next major type of cord in which children become entangled.
                Vertical blinds and curtains/drapes are the predominant types of window
                covering associated with strangulations on continuous loops. Some of
                the incident reports mentioned the child's prior interest in wearing
                the beaded chain as a necklace. Among the 89 fatalities, 23 reported
                this type of operating mechanism.
                 (iii) Inner Cords: Inner cords on horizontal blinds and/or Roman
                shades are the third major type of cord in which children become
                entangled. In these scenarios, the child pulled out the inner cord from
                between the slats of the horizontal blinds or from behind the Roman
                shades, which were in the lowered position. Subsequently, the child got
                caught in the loop created by the pulled-out portion of the inner cord.
                In some Roman shade incidents, children inserted their heads into the
                opening between the inner cord and the shade material. Seven of the 89
                fatalities involved inner cords.
                 (iv) Other Cords: Among the less-prevalent cord types, the lifting
                loop of a roll-up blind was involved in four fatalities. Children
                inserted their heads or arms into the lifting loop that came off the
                roll-up material, resulting in the strangulation incidents. Tilt cords
                that are used to swivel the slats on a horizontal blind were involved
                in an additional two fatal incidents.
                2. Incident Data From National Estimates
                (a) Estimates of Window Covering Cord-Related Strangulation Deaths
                Using National Center for Health Statistics Data
                 The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) compiles all death
                certificates filed in the United States into multiple-cause mortality
                data files. The mortality data files contain demographic information on
                the deceased, as well as codes to classify the underlying cause of
                death and up to 20 contributing conditions. The NCHS compiles the data
                in accordance with the World Health Organization's (WHO) instructions,
                which request member nations to classify causes of death by the current
                Manual of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases,
                Injuries, and Causes of Death. Death classifications use the tenth
                revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD),
                implemented in 1999. The latest year for which mortality data are
                available is 2019; as such, CPSC derived the strangulation fatality
                estimates for 2009 through 2019, which is a slightly different time
                frame than that used for the incident data from the CPSC databases.
                 Based on CPSC staff's review of the death certificates maintained
                in the CPSRMS database, staff identified three ICD10 codes that are
                likely to be used for classification of strangulation fatalities:
                 W75 (accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed),
                 W76 (Other accidental hanging and strangulation), and
                 W83 (Other specified threats to breathing).
                 Among these three ICD10 codes, W76 appeared to be the most commonly
                used to classify strangulation deaths.
                 Using the ICD10 code value of W76, CPSC staff identified a total of
                256 strangulation fatalities among children under age 5 in the
                multiple-cause mortality data from the NCHS from 2009 through 2019,
                which yields an annual average of 24 deaths (rounded up to the nearest
                integer). Two hundred and fifty-six strangulation fatalities are most
                likely an underestimate of all strangulation deaths, because CPSC staff
                did not use the other two ICD10 codes (W75 and W83) in the search of
                this data source. An unknown proportion of strangulation deaths are
                likely coded under ICD10=W75, as well as ICD10=W83, which cannot be
                distinguished from the non-strangulation deaths--because of the
                unavailability of any narrative description--in this data and added to
                the total. Hence, staff's annual average estimate of 24 strangulation
                deaths is a minimum.
                 A CPSC report by Marcy et al.,\13\ which reviewed CPSC databases in
                [[Page 1027]]
                2002, found that 35 percent of all strangulation fatalities among
                children less than 5 years old were associated with window covering
                cords. Assuming that this 35 percent proportion applies to the entire
                period 2009 through 2019, CPSC staff estimates that, on average, a
                minimum of 9 strangulation fatalities (35 percent of the unrounded
                average annual death estimate of 23.27) occur annually on window
                covering cords among children under 5 years of age. Again, the estimate
                is rounded up to an integer. Figure 13 presents the yearly details. The
                Commission seeks comments on the estimated strangulations by window
                coverings.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \13\ N. Marcy, G. Rutherford. ``Strangulations Involving
                Children Under 5 Years Old.'' U.S. Consumer Product Safety
                Commission, December 2002.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.021
                (b) Estimates of Window Covering Cord-Related Strangulation Injuries
                Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments
                 Based on the emergency department-treated injury data (NEISS), the
                aggregated estimated injuries to children 8 years of age and younger,
                who were entangled on window covering cords in the period 2009 through
                2020, fell below the NEISS reportable threshold.\14\ The injury
                estimates for individual years are even smaller, which makes any trend
                analysis unfeasible. However, we combined the 34 injury reports from
                NEISS with the incident data for the analysis of anecdotal data in
                section I.E.1 of this preamble. CPSC staff set the upper limit for the
                age selection criterion for NEISS data at 8 years old, whenever
                feasible, because of multiple incident reports received by CPSC staff
                that involved children up to that age.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \14\ According to the NEISS publication criteria, an estimate
                must be 1,200 or greater, the sample size must be 20 or greater, and
                the coefficient of variation must be 33 percent or smaller.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                F. ANSI/WCMA-2018 History and Description
                 CPSC staff began working with the Window Covering Manufacturers
                Association (WCMA) in 1995 on an American National Standards Institute
                (ANSI) voluntary standard to address the strangulation hazard to young
                children from accessible cords on window coverings. WCMA published the
                first version of the ANSI standard in 1996. The 1996 standard sought to
                prevent strangulation incidents created by looped cords by requiring
                either: (1) Separate operating cords, or (2) a cord release device on
                multiple cords ending in one tassel. The standard also required a
                tension device that would hold the cord or bead loop taut, when
                installed according to manufacturer's instructions.
                 In 2001 and in 2002, CPSC staff sent letters to the WCMA asking for
                revisions to the 1996 standard, including the addition of inner cord
                stops and the elimination of free-hanging cords or bead chains longer
                than the neck circumference of a fifth percentile 7- month to 9-month-
                old child.\15\ In August 2002, the published ANSI standard required
                inner cord stops. In 2007, the published ANSI standard required that
                tension devices partially limit the consumer's ability to control the
                blind if the tension device is not properly installed. In 2009 and
                2010, WCMA published provisional voluntary standards to address hazards
                associated with Roman shades.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \15\ See https://www.cpsc.gov/Regulations-Laws--Standards/Voluntary-Standards/Window-Blind-Cords.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 In November 2010, CPSC held a public meeting regarding window
                coverings, and WCMA announced that it would establish a steering
                committee to oversee the activities of six task groups, including one
                intended for operating pull cords and another for continuous loops. On
                December 20, 2011, WCMA balloted the proposed revisions to the
                voluntary standard, and on February 6, 2012, staff sent WCMA a letter
                providing comments on the
                [[Page 1028]]
                proposed revision.\16\ In these comments, CPSC staff reiterated that
                the hazardous loop determination should be made for all cords and that
                the length of an accessible operating cord should not be longer than
                the neck circumference of the youngest child at risk. In addition,
                staff raised concerns about the inability of tension devices to
                eliminate effectively or reduce significantly the risk of strangulation
                under certain foreseeable-use conditions.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \16\ Letter can be found at: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/blk_media_wcma02_07_12.pdf.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 In November 2012, the WCMA announced the approval of the 2012
                version of the ANSI/WCMA standard, which included: (1) Requirements for
                durability and performance testing of the tension/hold down devices,
                including new requirements for anchoring; (2) specific installation
                instructions and warnings; (3) new requirements for products that rely
                on ``wide lift bands'' to raise and lower window coverings; (4)
                requirements for a warning label and pictograms on the outside of stock
                packaging and merchandising materials for corded products; and (5)
                expanded testing requirements for cord accessibility, hazardous loop
                testing, roll-up style shade performance, and durability testing of all
                safety devices. A revised ANSI/WCMA A100.1 American National Standard
                for Safety of Corded Window Covering Products was approved on July 21,
                2014, which included an editorial change.
                 On July 22, 2014, CPSC staff sent a letter to the WCMA, requesting
                that the WCMA reopen the ANSI standard to address the hazard related to
                pull cords and continuous loops, which are the predominant hazard types
                in the incidents reported to CPSC.\17\ Staff suggested proposed
                language for a revision to the voluntary standard and asked that WCMA
                consider including the language in the standard. On August 29, 2014,
                WCMA responded that the association would begin the process of opening
                the ANSI/WCMA window covering standard. On August 2, 2016, CPSC staff
                hosted a WCMA technical meeting. At the meeting, WCMA committed to
                revising the voluntary standard to require no operating cords, short
                cords that cannot form a hazardous loop, or inaccessible cords,
                recognizing that there will be exceptions to these requirements. WCMA
                said that they would be exploring segmentation approaches, such as
                product categories, operating systems, applications and uses,
                distribution channels (e.g., stock versus custom), location in home;
                and size, weight, and geometry of the product and ability of the
                products to be readily adaptable to new technologies. WCMA also
                committed to submitting a revised draft standard for ANSI to ballot by
                the end of 2016.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \17\ Letter can be found at:
                 https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/blk_media_WCMALtr22July2014.pdf.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Throughout FY 2017, staff participated in WCMA steering committee
                meetings, and also participated in the stock/custom definitions and
                warning labeling task groups. ANSI published a revision to the window
                coverings standard, ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2018, on January 8, 2018. WCMA
                updated the 2018 version the standard in May 2018, to include missing
                balloted revisions. The standard went into effect on December 15, 2018.
                 This NPR is based on the most recent version of the voluntary
                standard, ANSI/WCMA-2018, which segments the window covering market
                between ``stock'' and ``custom'' window coverings, as defined in
                section 3 of the standard, definitions 5.02 and 5.01. Per section 4.3.1
                of the standard, stock window coverings are required to have:
                 (1) No operating cords (4.3.1.1),
                 (2) inaccessible operating cords (4.3.1.3), or
                 (3) short operating cords (equal to or less than 8 inches)
                (4.3.1.2).
                 Although manufacturers of custom window coverings can opt to meet
                the operating cord requirements for stock window coverings (sections
                4.3.2.1 through 4.3.2.3 for custom window coverings are identical to
                4.3.1.1 through 4.3.1.3), consumers can still purchase corded window
                coverings if they custom order the product (sections 4.3.2.4 through
                4.3.2.6). Table 3 demonstrates the operating cord systems allowed on
                custom window coverings that are not allowed on stock window coverings
                in ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.022
                 Section 4.3.2 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 contains additional revised default
                requirements for custom products, including:
                 (1) Operating cords must have a default length of 40 percent of the
                blind height (previously unlimited) (4.4);
                 (2) a wand is the default option for tilting slats (instead of a
                cord) (4.4.1.1); and
                [[Page 1029]]
                 (3) warning labels must depict more graphically the strangulation
                hazard associated with cords (5.1).
                 In 2018, staff participated in various task group meetings to
                develop requirements for rigid cord shrouds. Section 3, definition 2.09
                of ANSI/WCMA-2018 defines a ``cord shroud'' as ``a device or material
                added to limit the accessibility of a cord or formation of a Hazardous
                Loop.'' A ``rigid cord shroud'' is not defined in the voluntary
                standard, but it is a hard material that encases an operating cord to
                prevent a child from accessing the cord inside the device. The
                requirements developed by the ANSI task group would clarify ``rigid''
                by confirming that a cord shroud is rigid enough to ensure that the
                shroud cannot be wrapped around a child's neck or won't form a u-shape
                because of attaching the free end of the shroud to the wall (similar
                hazards to a single cord). CPSC staff is not aware of incidents related
                to current products with rigid cord shrouds and advises that cord
                shrouds that meet the proposed modifications to the ANSI/WCMA standard
                will address the strangulation hazard posed by accessible cords.
                 The task group, including CPSC staff, worked from March through
                December 2018, to develop draft language to test rigid cord shrouds,
                but WCMA has not balloted the requirements. The tests developed for
                rigid cord shrouds ensure the stiffness and integrity of the shroud.
                CPSC staff advises that the allowed deflection (1 inch for every 19-
                inch length of rigid cord shroud) for a rigid cord shroud under the
                test is reasonable. The axial torque test method simulates a child
                twisting the rigid cord shroud to determine if a cord becomes
                accessible. The torque is based on the mean wrist twisting strength of
                2- to 5-year-old males, using a vertically positioned 20 mm-diameter
                knob, which is 4.4 inch-pound (DTI, 2002). If the cord is accessible,
                then the device is not considered a rigid cord shroud. Accordingly, the
                Commission proposes a ``rigid cord shroud'' definition and test method
                in this NPR. Tab H of Staff's NPR Briefing Package, and section IV.C of
                this preamble, contain the proposed language related to cord shrouds,
                which is based on the work of the ANSI task group.
                 On March 12, 2019, staff participated in a WCMA steering committee
                meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to gather feedback on the new
                requirements that went into effect in December 2018, and to discuss
                potential proposals for the standard, which WCMA committed to open in
                mid-June 2019. During the meeting, the attendees agreed on the need for
                more education for online sellers regarding distinguishing stock and
                custom products, such as a guidance document for online sellers.
                Additionally, CPSC staff provided ideas for the next revision of the
                standard for the committee to consider, including: (1) Segmenting
                custom products by size and/or type to meet stock product requirements;
                (2) considering cord retractors for custom products as an option (which
                is not allowed for stock products); (3) investigating complete
                inoperability of the product if a tension device is not installed
                (current requirement is partial inoperability); and (4) considering
                cordless systems as default operating system for custom orders.
                 On May 16, 2019, staff sent a letter to WCMA, requesting
                segmentation of custom window coverings by size and/or type, and
                applying the requirements for stock products to these segments of
                custom products; presenting the cordless/short cords/inaccessible cords
                as the default operating system for custom products as an interim
                measure, as well as interrupting the ordering process with an alert on
                hazardous cords if a consumer wants to switch to a corded system;
                balloting the rigid cord shroud requirement that was finalized by the
                task group; reaching out to online sellers and developing a guidance
                document for online sellers; and clarifying whether the standard
                applies to curtain and drapery products.\18\
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \18\ See https://www.cpsc.gov/Regulations-Laws--Standards/Voluntary-Standards/Window-Blind-Cords.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 WCMA responded to CPSC staff on August 12, 2019 and stated that
                they have put on hold the planned revision of ANSI/WCMA standard
                because the Government of Canada published a new regulation on corded
                window coverings. WCMA explained that stock products that do not have
                operating cords but have inner cords that cannot form a hazardous loop,
                would not comply with the Canadian regulation because of the new
                regulated pull force applied to the inner cord. WCMA also stated that
                the force applied to the inner cord under the Canadian regulation is
                not applied to test for a hazardous loop; rather, it is applied to
                determine the force required to raise the product, which is completely
                contrary to the hazard scenario and is causing considerable confusion
                within the U.S. and Canadian manufacturing sectors. WCMA reassured CPSC
                staff that they were still moving forward with balloting the rigid
                shroud language for the standard.
                 In November 2019, WCMA sent a letter to CPSC staff about the
                amendment in the fiscal year 2020 Operating Plan, asking staff to
                assess what further revisions are needed to the American National
                Standard for Safety of Corded Window Covering Products (ANSI/
                WCMA[hyphen]2018), specifically for custom products. WCMA requested
                that CPSC staff use input from the technical experts at the WCMA's
                member companies during the upcoming study and in drafting the report
                to provide the Commission with a comprehensive and balanced review. The
                letter stated that WCMA will also proceed with balloting the rigid
                shroud language for the standard that was developed and agreed upon by
                the technical working group.
                 On February 3, 2020, staff sent a letter to WCMA, outlining staff's
                recommendations for future improvements to the standard, and included a
                request to reopen the standard and discuss staff's recommendations.\19\
                Staff reiterated their belief that substantial improvements have been
                made to the latest version of the standard, particularly on stock
                window coverings; however, staff asserted, expanding the requirements
                to custom corded window coverings would improve window covering safety.
                In September 2021, staff sent another letter to WCMA, urging WCMA to
                apply the stock product requirements in ANSI/WCMA-2018 to custom window
                coverings, as well as to ballot the rigid cord shroud language
                developed and agreed upon by the technical working group.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \19\ Letter can be found at the following link: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/CPSC-Staff-Letter-to-WCMA-Feb-2020.pdf?TZtarOeedGSVnaPzS5dHOEKpKz7f3N24.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Section II of this preamble assesses the adequacy of requirements
                for operating cords on stock and custom window coverings in ANSI/WCMA-
                2018 to address the hazards associated with corded window coverings.
                Based on staff's assessment, the Commission finds that ANSI/WCMA-2018
                adequately addresses the risk of strangulation on operating cords for
                stock window coverings, by removing operating cords, ensuring that they
                are inaccessible to children, or by making them too short for a child
                to wrap around his or her neck. However, as shown in Table 3, the
                Commission finds ANSI/WCMA-2018 does not adequately address the risk of
                injury associated with operating cords on custom window coverings,
                because custom products can still be sold to consumers with hazardous
                operating cords.
                [[Page 1030]]
                G. Commission Efforts To Address Hazardous Window Covering Cords
                1. Petition and Rulemaking
                 Since the mid-1990s, CPSC staff has been engaged with the voluntary
                standards body urging changes to the ANSI/WCMA standard to reduce the
                risk of injury associated with window covering cords. On October 8,
                2014, the Commission granted a petition to initiate a rulemaking to
                develop a mandatory safety standard for window coverings.\20\ The
                petition sought to prohibit window covering cords when a feasible
                cordless alternative exists. When a feasible cordless alternative does
                not exist, the petition requested that all window covering cords be
                made inaccessible by using passive guarding devices. The Commission
                granted the petition and directed staff to prepare an ANPR to seek
                information and comment on regulatory options for a mandatory rule to
                address the risk of strangulation to young children on window covering
                cords.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \20\ The petition, CP 13-2, was submitted by Parents for Window
                Blind Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Kids
                in Danger, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, Independent Safety Consulting,
                Safety Behavior Analysis, Inc., and Onder, Shelton, O'Leary &
                Peterson, LLC. Staff's October 1, 2014 Petition Briefing Package,
                and a copy of the petition at Tab A, is available on CPSC's website
                at: https://www.cpsc.gov/Global/Newsroom/FOIA/CommissionBriefingPackages/2015/PetitionRequestingMandatoryStandardforCordedWindowCoverings.pdf on
                (cpsc.gov).
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 On January 9, 2015, the Commission voted to approve publication in
                the Federal Register of the ANPR for corded window coverings. The
                Commission published the ANPR for corded window covering products on
                January 16, 2015 (80 FR 2327). The ANPR initiated a rulemaking
                proceeding under the CPSA. CPSC invited comments concerning the risk of
                injury associated with corded window coverings, the regulatory
                alternatives discussed in the notice, the costs to achieve each
                regulatory alternative, the effect of each alternative on the safety,
                cost, utility, and availability of window coverings, and other possible
                ways to address the risk of strangulation posed to young children by
                window covering cords. The Commission also invited interested persons
                to submit an existing standard or a statement of intent to modify or
                develop a voluntary standard to address the risk of injury. The ANPR
                was based on the 2014 version of the ANSI/WCMA standard.
                 As described in section II.A of this preamble, the revised version
                of the voluntary standard, ANSI/WCMA-2018, adequately addresses the
                risk of injury from operating and inner cords on stock window
                coverings, and the risk of inner cord strangulation on custom window
                coverings. Accordingly, the Commission is issuing two proposed rules:
                (1) This NPR under sections 7 and 9 of the CPSA, to require that custom
                window coverings sold in the United States not contain hazardous
                operating cords, by complying with the same operating cord requirements
                as stock products in section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018; and (2) in a
                separate, concurrent rulemaking under section 15(j) of the CPSA, the
                Commission is proposing to deem an SPH, as defined in section 15(a)(2)
                of the CPSA: (a) The presence of hazardous operating cords on stock
                window coverings, (b) the presence of hazardous inner cords on stock
                and custom window coverings, or (c) the absence of a required
                manufacturer label.
                2. Window Covering Recalls
                 During the period from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2020, CPSC
                conducted 42 consumer-level recalls, including two recall
                reannouncements. Tab C of Staff's NPR Briefing Package provides the
                details of these 42 recalls, where strangulation was the primary
                hazard. Manufacturers recalled more than 28 million units,\21\
                including: Roman shades and blinds, roll-up blinds, roller shades,
                cellular shades, horizontal blinds, and vertical blinds. The recalled
                products also included stock products, which can be purchased by
                consumers off the shelf, and custom products, which are made-to-order
                window coverings based on a consumer's specifications, such as
                material, size, and color.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \21\ This estimate does not include the recalled units of Recall
                No. 10-073. This was an industry-wide recall conducted by members of
                the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC). An exact number of
                recalled products was not stated in the recall announcements.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                II. Assessment of Operating Cord Requirements for Stock and Custom
                Window Coverings
                 Based on CPSC staff's engineering and human factors assessments of
                the voluntary standard, set forth in Tabs G and I of Staff's NPR
                Briefing Package, the NPR requires that operating cords on custom
                window coverings meet the same requirements for operating cords on
                stock window coverings, as provided in section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                In this section of the preamble, we provide an overview of the
                operating cord requirements for stock and custom window coverings in
                ANSI/WCMA-2018 and in other international standards; assess the
                adequacy of these requirements to address the risk of strangulation to
                young children; and explain why the Commission proposes to require that
                custom window coverings meet the same operating cord requirements as
                stock window coverings.
                A. Engineering Assessment of Operating Cord Requirements in ANSI/WCMA-
                2018
                1. Stock Window Coverings
                 Requirements for operating cords on stock window coverings in ANSI/
                WCMA-2018 are adequate to address the risk of injury associated with
                window coverings. Staff analyzed the incident data, which indicated
                that the largest proportion of deaths, irrespective of window covering
                type, involved operating cords (most frequently tangled or knotted
                cords, followed by cord(s) wrapped around the child's neck). The
                voluntary standard recognizes that long and accessible cords can pose a
                strangulation hazard. ANSI/WCMA-2018 defines the ``operating cord'' as
                the portion of a cord that the user interacts with and manipulates to
                move the window covering in a certain direction (e.g., lifting or
                lowering, traversing, rotating). If a child wraps a long operating cord
                around their neck or inserts their neck into a cord loop created by the
                design of the window covering or by tangled cords, the child can
                strangle to death within minutes. ANSI/WCMA-2018 provides three ways
                that a stock window covering can comply with the standard to reduce or
                eliminate the risk of children strangulating on operating cords:
                 a. No Operating Cords (section 4.3.1.1). Having no operating cords
                effectively eliminates the strangulation hazard associated with
                operating cords because there is no cord to cause strangulation.
                Consumers use a mechanism, other than an operating cord, to accomplish
                the desired movement action on the product (i.e., lifting, lowering,
                traversing). For example, a spring mechanism on a horizontal blind
                allows the user to lift and lower the blind via bottom rail of the
                window covering.
                 b. Short Cord with a Length Equal to or Less Than 8 Inches in Any
                State (section 4.3.1.2). Based on the anthropometric dimensions of the
                youngest child involved in an incident, a static cord length of 8
                inches or shorter is insufficient to strangle a child,
                [[Page 1031]]
                because the neck circumference of a fifth percentile 6- to 9-month-old
                child is 8 inches (BSI, 1990, as cited in Norris and Wilson, 1995).
                Because a child would need some extra length of cord to hold the cord
                out and wrap it around their neck, staff calculated that a cord must be
                longer than 8 inches to cause strangulation.
                 c. Inaccessible Operating Cords Determined Per the Test Requirement
                in Appendix C of the ANSI/WCMA-2018 (section 4.3.1.3). If a window
                covering has an operating cord that is longer than 8 inches, ANSI/WCMA-
                2018 requires that the cord must be inaccessible to children. Having
                inaccessible cords effectively eliminates the strangulation hazard
                associated with operating cords, because the child is unable to access
                a cord to cause strangulation. Accordingly, this requirement is tested
                using a probe that is intended to simulate the finger size of a young
                child; the diameter of the probe is 0.25 inches, based on fifth
                percentile 2- to 3.5-year-old's index finger diameter (Snyder et al.,
                1977) at 0.33 inches and the off-the-shelf availability of a 0.25-inch
                diameter dowel pin. If the probe cannot touch the operating cord, the
                cord is then deemed inaccessible, pursuant to ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                 Staff is unaware of a stock window covering for sale in the United
                States that has an inaccessible operating cord, as described in section
                4.3.1.3 of ANSI/WCMA-2018. For products sold in other countries that
                meet the inaccessibility requirement, the test in the voluntary
                standard is met by using a rigid cord shroud that encapsulates the
                operating cord. Figure 14 displays an example of a rigid cord shroud.
                In Figure 14, the accessibility probe cannot touch the operating cord
                because it is surrounded by the cord shroud. Therefore, the window
                covering in Figure 14 meets section 4.3.1.3 of ANSI/WCMA-2018, because
                the operating cord is inaccessible.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.031
                 CPSC concludes that ANSI/WCMA-2018 adequately addresses the
                strangulation hazard posed by accessible operating cords on stock
                window covering products, because the standard either eliminates
                accessible operating cords, or limits the length of the cord so that it
                is too short for a child to strangle.
                2. Custom Window Coverings
                 Requirements for operating cords on custom window products in
                section 4.3.2 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 do not adequately address the risk of
                strangulation to children 8 years old and younger, because ANSI/WCMA-
                2018 allows hazardous operating cords if window coverings are custom
                ordered. Of the 35 custom window covering incidents reviewed by staff,
                30 of the 35 (86%) incidents were related to operating cords (including
                pull cords and continuous loops). CPSC staff advises that had the
                requirements in section 4.3.1 of the ANSI/WCMA standard for operating
                cords on stock products been in effect for custom window coverings, the
                requirements would have prevented 100 percent of the incidents
                involving operating cords on custom window coverings. However, the
                requirements in section 4.3.2 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 do not address the
                custom window covering incidents associated with accessible operating
                cords.
                 The 2018 version of the voluntary standard added two new
                requirements for custom window coverings to mitigate the hazard: (1)
                Default maximum operating cord length of 40 percent of the blind height
                when the product is fully lowered, and (2) default tilt wand option for
                tilting slats instead of a cord. However, ANSI/WCMA-2018 still allows
                hazardous operating cords to be part of the window covering design for
                custom products, which can comply with ANSI/WCMA-2018 using one of the
                following methods, all of which pose strangulation risks:
                 (a) Accessible Operating Cords longer than 8 inches (section
                4.3.2.6). By allowing operating cords on custom window coverings to
                exceed 8 inches in length, ANSI/WCMA-2018 creates a continuing
                unreasonable risk of injury to children 8 years old and younger.
                Section 4.3.2.6 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 allows hazardous operating cords,
                meaning operating cords that are long enough to be wrapped around a
                child's neck, or multiple cords that can become tangled and create a
                loop large enough for a child to insert their head. Even though ANSI/
                WCMA-2018 attempts to reduce the strangulation risk by shortening the
                default length of the cord to 40 percent of the window covering's
                length (section 4.4) and specifying the tilt wand as the default option
                versus tilt cords (section 4.4.1.1), as explained in Tab I of Staff's
                NPR Briefing Package, and in section II.C of this preamble, the risk
                associated with operating cords remains.
                 (b) Continuous Loop Operating System (section 4.3.2.5). This
                operating system requires that the operating loop be kept taut with a
                tension device. However, as observed in the incident data, a child can
                still insert his/her head into the continuous loop if it is not taut
                enough; in addition, as explained in Tab I of Staff's NPR Briefing
                Package, and in section II.C of this preamble, tension devices may not
                be attached to the wall, which results in a free loop on the product.
                CPSC staff identified 23 fatal strangulations involving a continuous
                corded loop on a product without a functional tension device. CPSC is
                aware of cord or bead-chain restraining devices intended to be
                integrated into the window covering, and that do not need to be
                attached on the wall to keep the loop taut. According to the standard,
                these devices are required to meet durability, UV stability, and impact
                testing, and the devices must pass the hazardous loop testing procedure
                to confirm that they do not create a hazardous loop from an accessible
                continuous operating cord. CPSC requests comments on the adequacy of
                these devices to reduce or eliminate the strangulation hazard
                associated with custom window coverings.
                 (c) Single Retractable Cord Lift System (section 4.3.2.4). This
                method of complying with ANSI/WCMA-2018 allows an operating cord on a
                custom window covering to be pulled at any length to operate the window
                covering, and then retracts to a shorter length when the user releases
                the cord. Staff advises that retractable cord lift systems with an
                extended cord greater than 8 inches, and a low-retraction force to
                sustain that length, could allow a child to manipulate the cord and
                wrap the cord around his/her neck. Accordingly, the retractable cord
                requirement, as written, in ANSI/WCMA-2018 for operating cords on
                custom window coverings is not adequate to address the risk of injury,
                because the maximum cord length and a minimum pull force required to
                operate the system is not specified in the standard. CPSC requests
                comments on whether additional requirements for retractable cords, such
                as a maximum exposed cord length and a minimum pull force for a single
                retractable cord lift system, can address the strangulation hazard.
                [[Page 1032]]
                 Based on staff's analysis, the Commission concludes that ANSI/WCMA-
                2018 does not adequately address the strangulation hazard posed by
                accessible operating cords on custom window coverings, because the
                standard allows these products to have one or more operating cords that
                is longer than 8 inches, and the standard allows custom products to
                have continuous-loop operating systems.
                3. Window Covering Technologies
                 Stock window coverings currently on the market, as well as a
                substantial portion of custom window coverings, implement safer
                technologies to address the hazards identified in the incident analysis
                review. These products include, but are not limited to, cordless window
                coverings, window coverings with rigid cord shrouds, and cordless
                motorized window coverings.
                 Operating cords can be made inaccessible with passive guarding
                devices. Passive guarding devices allow the user to operate the window
                covering without the direct interaction of a hazardous cord. These
                types of window coverings use rigid cord shrouds, integrated cord/chain
                tensioners, or crank mechanisms.
                 Cordless blinds can be raised and lowered by pushing the bottom
                rail up or pulling the rail down. This same motion may also be used to
                adjust the position of the horizontal slats for light control. Through
                market research, CPSC staff found several examples of cordless blinds
                that are made with a maximum height of 84 inches and a maximum width of
                144 inches.
                 Rigid cord shrouds can be retrofitted over various types of window
                coverings to enclose pull cords and continuous-cord loops. A rigid cord
                shroud allows the user to use the pull cords while eliminating access
                to the hazardous cords. CPSC staff worked with WCMA and other members
                from March through December 2018, to develop draft requirements to test
                the stiffness of ``rigid cord shrouds,'' by measuring the deflection
                and deformation.\22\ In December 2018, WCMA sent the agreed-upon
                language for rigid cord shrouds to the members; however, the language
                was never balloted. This NPR includes requirements for rigid cord
                shrouds, based on the previously developed test, so that custom window
                coverings can use a rigid cord shroud to comply with the proposed rule
                through inaccessibility of the operating cord.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \22\ The 2018 standard tests rigid cord shrouds for UV stability
                and impact.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 The proposed rigid cord shroud requirements in the NPR include two
                tests: The ``Center Load'' test and the ``Axial Torque'' test, to
                ensure the stiffness and the integrity of the shroud so that the
                enclosed operating cord does not become accessible when the shroud is
                twisted. The Center Load test verifies the stiffness of the cord
                shroud, by measuring the amount of deflection in the shroud when both
                ends are mounted, and a 5-pound force is applied at the mid-point. This
                test ensures that the shroud is not flexible enough to wrap around a
                child's neck. The Axial Torque test verifies that the cord shroud's
                opening does not enlarge to create an accessible cord opening when the
                shroud is twisted. Tab H of Staff's NPR Briefing Package contains
                additional detail on the requirement. The Commission solicits comments
                on the proposed test methods set forth in the proposed regulatory text.
                 Crank mechanisms (Figure 15) can replace the continuous-loop
                mechanism with a crank/wand. Because the operating cord is replaced
                with a wand, the strangulation hazard is completely removed.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.023
                 Finally, cordless motorized blinds can be raised and lowered using
                an electric motor with a supplied controller. These window coverings
                function similarly to the motorized projector screens. Because these
                window coverings use a motor instead of a pull cord, they do not
                contain exposed hazardous operating cords.
                B. Assessment of International Standards for Window Covering Operating
                Cords
                 The 2015 ANPR identified three jurisdictions that specify
                requirements for the safety of window coverings: (1) Australia, (2)
                Canada, and (3) Europe. Australia has a Trade Practices (Consumer
                Product Safety Standard- Corded internal Window coverings) Regulation
                2010 F2010C00801. Europe has the EN: 13120 Internal Blinds--Performance
                requirements, including safety, EN 16433 Internal Blinds--Protection
                from strangulation hazards- test methods, and EN 16434 Internal
                Blinds--Protection from strangulation hazards--Requirements and Test
                methods for safety devices. Canada previously had the Corded Window
                Covering Products Regulation SOR/2006-112. Since the ANPR, the Canadian
                standard was revised to SOR/2019-97.
                [[Page 1033]]
                 ANSI/WCMA-2018 is more stringent than Australia Regulation, 2010
                F2010C00801, or EN 13120, EN 16433, or EN 16434. However, ANSI/WCMA-
                2018 is not as stringent as the new Canadian regulation, SOR/2019-97.
                Canada's window covering regulation states that any window covering
                cord that can be reached must be too short to wrap around a 1-year-old
                child's neck (i.e., not more than 22cm (8.66 inches) in length) or form
                a loop that can be pulled over a 1-year-old child's head (i.e., not
                more than 44cm (17.32 inches) in circumference). Canada's regulation
                also requires that all window coverings meet one of the following
                conditions:
                 Section 4: The cord shall be unreachable/inaccessible.
                 Section 5 and 6: Reachable/accessible cords shall be 22 cm
                (8.66 inches) or less when pulled with 35N (7.87 lbf).
                 Section 7: Reachable/accessible looped cords shall be 44
                cm (17.32 inches) or less in perimeter when pulled with 35N (7.87 lbf).
                 Both the Canadian standard and the ANSI/WCMA stock window covering
                requirements do not permit a long accessible operating cord. The
                Canadian standard is more stringent, however, because the Canadian
                standard applies to both stock and custom products, while the ANSI/WCMA
                standard contains separate requirements for stock and custom products,
                which allows long, accessible operating cords on custom products.
                 Although the Canadian standard is similar to the ANSI/WCMA's stock
                window covering requirement, there are some differences. For example,
                ANSI/WCMA-2018 and the Canadian standard take a different approach to
                the definition of ``Accessible Cord.'' Section 3, definition 2.01 of
                ANSI/WCMA-2018 defines an ``accessible cord'' as a cord that can touch
                a cord accessibility probe and a cord shroud accessibility probe.
                Section 1 of the Canadian regulation states that a ``reachable/
                accessible cord'' is:
                the part of the cord that any person can touch when the corded
                window covering has been installed whether the window covering is
                fully opened, fully closed or in any position in between.
                 This definition of ``accessible cord'' in the Canadian standard is
                subjective because the definition applies to a person with unspecified
                measurements who shall be able to reach a cord. The definition of
                ``accessible cord'' in ANSI/WCMA-2018 uses a performance requirement
                with accessibility probes based on the dimension of a child's fingers.
                The approach in ANSI/WCMA-2018 is more stringent than the Canadian
                standard because it requires a test that is not subjective and that
                provides consistent results when tested.
                C. Human Factors Assessment of Operating Cord Requirements in ANSI/
                WCMA-2018
                 Operating cord requirements for stock window coverings in section
                4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 effectively eliminate the strangulation hazard
                associated with operating cords. However, operating cord requirements
                for custom window coverings in section 4.3.2 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 allow
                operating cords to meet one of the three requirements for operating
                cords on stock window coverings in section 4.3.1 of the standard
                (cordless, inaccessible, or 8 inches or shorter) to comply, but the
                standard also allows operating cords that have accessible cords that
                are longer than 8 inches, such as single retractable cord lift systems,
                continuous loop operating systems, and standard operating systems.
                Thus, the ANSI standard allows free-hanging and accessible cords on
                custom window coverings that do not eliminate the strangulation hazard
                associated with operating cords.
                1. Default Requirements for Custom Operating Cords Allow Accessible
                Cords
                 In the earlier versions of the ANSI/WCMA standard, the standard
                contained no specified length for operating cords. However, ANSI/WCMA-
                2018 provides the following two new requirements for custom window
                coverings, which are intended to reduce the hazard associated with
                free-hanging and accessible operating cords:
                 Section 4.4 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 requires that the default
                cord length should be no more than 40 percent of the product height
                when the window covering is fully lowered. The exception is when a
                custom length is required to ensure user accessibility. Figure 16 shows
                the length of operating cords that are longer than 40 percent of
                product height and shorter cords that comply with this new requirement.
                 Section 4.4.1 requires that a wand tilt be the default
                operating system, and cord tilt be an allowable customer option (Figure
                16). The length requirement in section 4.4 still applies to tilt cords.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.024
                [[Page 1034]]
                 CPSC has concerns with operating cords that comply with the
                requirements in sections 4.4 and 4.4.1 because:
                 The length of operating cords can still be hazardous when
                the window covering is fully lowered. First, a child can wrap the cord
                around their neck; only about 8 inches of cord is enough to encircle
                the child's neck.\23\ Additionally, multiple cords can tangle and
                create a loop in which a child can insert his/her head; a loop with a
                circumference of about 17 inches is sufficient for child's head to
                enter.\24\ Figure 17 shows these two scenarios.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \23\ Neck circumference of fifth percentile 6-9-month-old
                children is 8 inches (BSI, 1990 as cited in Norris and Wilson,
                1995.)
                 \24\ Head circumference of fifth percentile 6-9-month-old
                children is 16.5 inches (Snyder et al., 1977).
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.025
                 Operating cord(s) will get longer as the window covering
                is raised, making it easier for a child to access and manipulate the
                hazardous operating cord.
                 If the cord tilt option is chosen, the cord tilt can also
                be long enough to be wrapped around a child's neck or be tangled and
                create a loop in which a child's head can enter.
                 Consumers can easily change the default options during the
                custom order process, thus maintaining the ability to choose an
                accessible operating cord that exceeds 8 inches long, posing a
                strangulation hazard.
                 Incident data show that children have strangled on operating cords
                in various ways. As reported in the incident data in section I.E of
                this preamble, and Tab A of Staff's NPR Briefing Package, custom window
                coverings were involved in at least 35 incidents. Table 4 shows how
                children accessed window covering cords. In 14 incidents, the child
                climbed on an item including couch, chair, toy chest or dog kennel and
                accessed the cord. In four cases, a child was on a sleeping surface,
                including a bed (2), playpen, and a crib. In six incidents, a child was
                able to get to the cord from the floor.
                 Table 4--Child's Interaction Scenario in Incidents Associated With
                 Custom Products
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Number of
                 Scenario incidents
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Climbed on an item to reach the cords................... 14
                On floor................................................ 6
                On bed, in playpen or crib.............................. 4
                Unknown................................................. 11
                 ---------------
                 Total............................................... 35
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 The incident data demonstrate that accessible cords that are longer
                than 8 inches are hazardous. For example, the data show that even if
                operating cords are kept close to the window covering head rail with
                some means, children climb and access the cords. Additionally, a
                significant number of operating pull cord incidents occurred in fully
                or partially raised window coverings, which essentially reduces the
                benefit of having a default length of 40 percent of the window covering
                height in fully lowered position of the window covering, because the
                cords will get longer as the product is raised.\25\ Based on these
                data, CPSC concludes that even though the requirements in sections 4.4
                and 4.4.1 of the ANSI standard attempt to reduce the strangulation
                hazard associated with accessible and hazardous operating cords, these
                requirements are still inadequate, because they continue to allow
                accessible and long cords to be part of the window covering.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \25\ A total of 36 out of 46 pull cord incidents when position
                of the window covering was known have occurred with partially or
                fully raised window covering (1996 to 2016 incidents.)
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                2. Warning Labels in ANSI/WCMA-2018, Alone, Are Inadequate To Address
                the Strangulation Hazard Associated With Operating Cords
                 The ANSI/WCMA-2018 standard requires that corded custom window
                covering products have warning labels regarding the strangulation
                hazard to children, as summarized below:
                 A generic warning label must be permanently attached to
                the bottom rail, including a pictogram depicting the hazard of a cord
                wrapped around a child's neck. The content explains the strangulation
                hazard and what consumers need to do to avoid the hazard (keeping cords
                out of children's reach, shortening cords to prevent reach, moving crib
                and furniture away.)
                 A similar warning label must be placed on product
                merchandising materials which includes, but is not limited to, the
                sample book and the website (if the website is relied upon for
                promoting, merchandising, or selling on-line).
                 A warning tag containing a pictogram and similar text as
                above must be placed on accessible cords, including operating cords,
                tension devices that are intended to keep
                [[Page 1035]]
                continuous loops taut, and on inner cords of a roll up shade.
                 Formatting of warning labels in the ANSI standard is required to
                follow ANSI Z535 standards, which are the preeminent set of standards
                to develop safety labels.\26\ This includes a signal word (``Warning'')
                in all uppercase letters measuring not less than \5/16\ in (8 mm) in
                height and preceded by an ANSI safety alert symbol (an equilateral
                triangle surrounding an exclamation point) of at least the same size,
                the rest of the warning message text be in both uppercase and lowercase
                letters, with capital letters measuring not less than \1/8\ in (3 mm).
                A Spanish version of the label is also required.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \26\ The ANSI Z535 Series provides the specifications and
                requirements to establish uniformity of safety color coding,
                environmental/facility safety signs and communicating safety
                symbols. It also enables the design, application, use and placement
                of product safety signs, labels, safety tags and barricade tape.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Among the 35 incidents involving custom products, at least 19
                included a permanent label. Table 5 shows the presence of the labels on
                the incident units.\27\ The presence of the label was unknown in 10
                incidents, and no label was reported in 6 incidents. In some cases,
                parents reported that they were aware of the cord hazard, but never
                thought their child would interact with them; in a few cases, parents
                were aware of the operating cord hazard but not the inner cord hazard.
                In some cases involving bead chains, parents thought that the connector
                clip on the bead chain loop was supposed to break away. None of the
                incident units had a hang tag. One unit had the hang tags tucked into
                the head rail, which was discovered when the unit was removed.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \27\ In two cases, staff examined exemplar units.
                 Table 5--Presence of Permanent Warning Labels in Incident Units
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Number of
                 Permanent label present incidents
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Yes..................................................... 18
                Mostly peeled off....................................... 1
                No...................................................... 6
                Unknown................................................. 10
                 ---------------
                 Total............................................... 35
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Research demonstrates that consumers are less likely to look for
                and read safety information about the products that they use frequently
                and are familiar with (Godfrey et al., 1983). Given that many of the
                window covering incidents occurred on products with at least the
                permanent label attached on the bottom rail, and the high likelihood
                that consumers have window coverings in their homes and almost
                certainly use them daily, and thus have high familiarity, even well-
                designed warning labels will have limited effectiveness in
                communicating the hazard on this type of product.
                 Based the forgoing research and the incident data, warning labels
                are unlikely to effectively reduce the strangulation risk due to
                hazardous cords on window coverings, because consumers are not likely
                to read and follow warning labels on window covering products, and
                strangulation deaths among children occur quickly and silently, such
                that parental supervision is insufficient to address the incidents.
                3. Safety Devices Are Inadequate To Address the Risk of Strangulation
                 ANSI/WCMA-2018 requires that custom products with accessible
                operating cords include cord cleats with instructions for use and
                mounting. The standard also requires that custom products with a
                continuous loop operating system contain a cord tension device. Figure
                18 shows examples of cord cleats and tension devices.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.026
                (a) Tension Devices
                 ANSI/WCMA-2018 requires that a tension device be attached to the
                cord or bead chain loop by the manufacturer and also requires a
                sequential process or tools to be removed, which essentially means that
                consumers would have to go through multiple steps or need to use a tool
                such as a screwdriver to remove the tension device. Unless installed or
                altered from the shipped condition, the voluntary standard also
                requires window coverings to be designed so that they are prevented
                from operating, at least partially, unless the tension device is
                properly installed. The standard also requires that the tension device
                be supplied with fasteners and instructions and meet the durability
                test requirements.
                 CPSC has concerns with using safety devices to reduce the risk of
                strangulation for several reasons. Securing safety devices goes beyond
                the installation of the window covering itself, which increases the
                ``cost of compliance'' that is the time and effort to use the product.
                Also, safety devices, such as tension devices, usually require drilling
                holes on the wall or windowsill that may not be permissible for renters
                and may not be desirable by homeowners.
                 Among the 35 incidents involving custom products, 12 had continuous
                loop cords or bead chains. In one incident, the child was able to
                insert his head through the loop even though the tension device was
                attached to the wall, originally installed by a professional. In 2
                incidents, a tension device was attached to the cord but not to the
                wall. In one incident, a tension device broke prior to the incident. In
                4 incidents, staff confirmed that a tension device was not installed.
                The remaining 4 incidents contained no mention of tension device.
                [[Page 1036]]
                (b) Cord Cleats
                 While the tension device is intended to prevent the window covering
                at least ``partially'' from operating, cord cleats have no impact on
                the operation of the window covering. Even when a cord cleat is
                installed, the consumer must wrap the cord around the cleat every time
                the product is raised or lowered to mitigate the strangulation hazard,
                which means that the user's active involvement is necessary every time.
                Further, cord cleats can be accessed by a child if he/she climbs up. In
                one incident, although caregivers normally wrapped the cord around the
                cleat, on the day of the incident, cords were not wrapped, and the
                child accessed the cords after climbing on a couch.
                (c) Consumer Perception of Safety Devices
                 Some consumers may believe that because they either do not have
                young children living with them or visiting them, installation of the
                safety devices is unnecessary. However, window coverings last a long
                time, and when homes are sold or new renters move in, the existing
                window coverings, if they are functional, usually remain installed and
                could be hazardous to new occupants with young children.
                 CPSC issued a contract to investigate the effectiveness of safety
                devices in reducing the risk of a child's access to hazardous cords and
                loops on window coverings. Westat conducted research under Contract
                CPSC-Q-15-0064.\28\ The research objective was to provide CPSC with
                systematic and objective data on the factors that impact installation,
                use, and maintenance of window covering safety devices; assess how
                these factors impact the likelihood of correct installation, use, and
                maintenance; and identify how the factors relate to the goal of
                reducing children's access to hazardous cords and loops on window
                coverings. Westat reviewed the window coverings and safety devices
                available in brick-and-mortar and online stores; performed task
                analysis to identify key issues and specific questions to be addressed
                in the focus groups; developed materials and procedures for the focus
                groups; and conducted the focus groups. Major findings from the study
                point to:
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \28\ https://cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Window%20Coverings%20Safety%20Devices%20Contractor%20Reports.pdf.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 (i) A general awareness about cord entanglement among caregivers,
                which does not translate to precautionary action, due partly to the
                insufficient information provided at the point of sale;
                 (ii) Lack of awareness of the speed and mechanism of the injury
                that may lead to caregivers' underestimating the importance of
                providing an adequate level of supervision;
                 (iii) Difficulty using and installing safety devices as primary
                reasons for not using them; and
                 (iv) Inability to recognize the purpose of the safety devices
                provided with window coverings.
                 In general, participants in the Westat study preferred a cordless
                window covering or a passive mechanism, which does not require
                intentional action by the user. Westat concluded that there could be
                benefits from enhancing the public's awareness and understanding of the
                unique nature of incidents (e.g., speed, mechanism) and explaining a
                child's vulnerability in all rooms in the home, and that providing
                specific information at the point of sale, could be partially helpful.
                However, Westat stated that these improvements would be incremental,
                and that increasing the use of cordless window coverings would be
                needed to achieve significant benefits.
                4. Relying on Parental Supervision Is Inadequate To Address the Risk of
                Strangulation
                 CPSC has recognized cords on window coverings as a hidden hazard
                for many years. Strangulation with cords requires only a few minutes.
                Because even young children are left unsupervised for a few minutes or
                more in a room that is considered safe, such as a bedroom or family
                room, parental supervision is unlikely to be effective to eliminate or
                reduce the hazard. Children can wrap the cord around their necks,
                insert their heads into a cord loop and get injured, or die silently in
                a few minutes in any room, with or without supervision.
                 Even when supervision is present, the level of supervision varies
                and distractions and other limitations to supervision exist. For
                example, CPSC has incident reports involving five near-fatal
                strangulations, in which the parent was either nearby or in the same
                room and was able to rescue the child before the child lost
                consciousness.\29\ Among the 35 incidents involving custom products,
                incident location was known in 33 incidents. In 18 incidents, a child
                was in a room shared by the family members such as a family room,
                living room, and sunroom. Eleven of 18 incidents were not witnessed,
                whereas 5 were witnessed by an adult, 2 incidents occurred in the
                company of other children. Almost all the incidents (14/15) that
                occurred in a bedroom were unwitnessed, including one victim's father
                sleeping in the same room; only one was witnessed by another child, a
                5-year-old (Table 6). Out of the 14 fatalities, 13 were not witnessed,
                whereas, out of the 21 nonfatal incidents, 12 were not witnessed.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \29\ Video capturing a child's entanglement in the cords at
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s6nBgy3MJA, accessed on 8/13/2021.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Research supports these observations. People cannot be perfectly
                attentive, particularly over long periods of time, regardless of their
                desire to do so (Wickens & Hollands, 2000). Caregivers are likely to be
                distracted, at least occasionally, because they must perform other
                tasks, are exposed to more salient stimuli, or are subject to other
                stressors, such as being responsible for supervising more than one
                child. In fact, research by Morrongiello and colleagues (2006)
                indicates that older toddlers and preschool children (2 through 5 years
                old) are regularly out of view of a supervising caregiver for about 20
                percent of their awake time at home, and are completely unsupervised
                (i.e., the parent was not listening to or watching what the child was
                doing at all) for about 4 percent of awake time in the home. The most
                common rooms in which children were left alone and unsupervised were
                the living or family room and the bedroom.
                 Table 6--Location of Incidents and Whether the Incidents Were Witnessed
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Location Fatal Nonfatal
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Bedroom:
                 Witnessed by children............... 1 ..............
                 Not witnessed....................... 8 6
                Family/Living/Dining room:
                 Witnessed by Adult.................. .............. 5
                [[Page 1037]]
                
                 Witnessed by children............... .............. 2
                 Not witnessed....................... 5 6
                Unknown................................. .............. 2
                 -------------------------------
                 Grand Total......................... 14 21
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                5. Assessment of Operating Cord Requirements for Window Coverings
                 CPSC staff evaluated the requirements that apply to operating cords
                on stock window coverings in section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 (no
                operating cords, short operating cords 8 inches or shorter, or
                inaccessible operating cords determined per the test requirement in
                Appendix C of ANSI/WCMA-2018). Having no operating cords effectively
                eliminates the strangulation hazard associated with operating cords
                because there is no cord to cause strangulation; therefore, this is an
                adequate requirement. Having a short cord that does not exceed 8 inches
                of length in any position of the window covering also effectively
                eliminates the strangulation hazard associated with operating cords;
                the neck circumference of fifth percentile 6-9-month-old children is 8
                inches (BSI, 1990 as cited in Norris and Wilson, 1995), therefore this
                is an adequate requirement. Ensuring that the operating cords are
                inaccessible is another adequate requirement. This requirement is
                tested in ANSI/WCMA-2018 using a probe that is intended to simulate the
                finger size of a young child. The diameter of the probe is 0.25 inches,
                based on fifth percentile 2-3.5-year old's middle index finger diameter
                (Snyder et al., 1977.) at 0.33 inches and the off-the-shelf
                availability of a 0.25-inch diameter dowel pin. If the probe cannot
                touch the cords, the cord is then deemed inaccessible. Staff assessed
                that child anthropometry and strength related inputs to develop these
                requirements are adequate to address the strangulation risk associated
                with hazardous cords.
                 Staff assessed the operating cord requirements on custom window
                coverings, which are different than those required on stock window
                coverings in section II.A of this preamble and Tab G of Staff's NPR
                Briefing Package. Based on the staff's assessment, the Commission
                proposes to require the same requirements for operating cords on stock
                and custom window coverings to effectively eliminate the unreasonable
                risk of strangulation associated with operating cords on custom window
                coverings.
                6. Addressability of Incidents With the Proposed Rule
                 CPSC received reports of 194 incidents that reportedly occurred
                from January 2009 through December 2020. Staff identified 35 of these
                incidents as having occurred with a custom window covering; 50 with
                stock window covering, and in 109 cases, there was not enough
                information to identify whether the incident unit was stock or custom
                window covering. Out of the 35 custom window covering incidents, a
                continuous loop was involved in 12 incidents; operating cords,
                including tilt cords, were involved in 19 incidents; 3 incidents
                involved inner cords; and 2 incidents involved an unknown cord type.
                 The stock window covering requirements in ANSI/WCMA-2018 adequately
                address both the continuous loops and operating cords by removing cords
                entirely, making them inaccessible, or by requiring them to be no
                longer than 8 inches. All three of the inner cord incidents have
                reportedly occurred on custom Roman shades that did not comply with the
                requirements in the standard; if the products had complied with the
                voluntary standard, staff concludes that those incidents would have
                been prevented. Moreover, as reviewed in section II.E of this preamble
                and Tab E of Staff's NPR Briefing Package, new window coverings
                substantially comply with the inner cord voluntary standards.
                 All 30 incidents associated with operating cords and continuous
                loops (out of 35 total incidents involving custom products, with the
                others including 3 that involved inner cords and 2 unknown) would have
                been prevented if the custom window covering complied with the
                requirements for stock window coverings in the ANSI/WCMA standard. The
                three inner cord related incidents would have been prevented if the
                incident units complied with the existing standard. Therefore, if the
                custom window covering complied with the recommended requirements, 86
                percent (30/35) of the custom product incidents would have been
                addressed in addition to the 8.6 (3/35) percent of the inner cord
                incidents that would be addressed by complying with the voluntary
                standard. Given that all accessible and hazardous cords are effectively
                addressed with the recommended requirements, the remaining 5.4 percent
                of the incidents (which represented 2/35 incidents for which the
                involved cord type was unknown) would also be addressed.
                 Even though a large portion of the reported incidents did not have
                sufficient information to categorize the incident product as stock or
                custom, all of the hazard patterns involving unknown stock or custom
                product incidents (109) would also be addressed for future products if
                the Commission issues a final rule for operating cords on custom window
                coverings. If the unknown products are stock products, such products
                would be part of the market we now find to be substantially compliant
                with ANSI/WCMA-2018. If the unknown products are custom products, they
                would comply with the rule for operating cords on custom products. The
                hazard associated with inner cords is addressed by compliance with the
                ANSI standard; the Commission finds that all stock and custom products
                substantially comply with ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                7. Accessibility Concerns
                 Some manufacturers, including WCMA, have expressed concern about
                users with a disability, who may not be able to reach cordless window
                coverings to successfully operate the product, and urge that these
                consumers still need a corded product. However, CPSC staff advises that
                various tools exist on the market designed to make the operation of the
                window coverings easier and accessible to consumers in a variety of use
                locations. For example, extension poles are already available for
                window coverings that are out of reach, such as poles for skylights and
                cordless products (Figure 19). Wands are also available to make it
                easier for users to
                [[Page 1038]]
                operate it with a power grip instead of a pinch grip (Figure 20).
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \30\ Mention of trade names or products does not constitute
                endorsement or recommendation for use, nor does it imply that
                alternative products are unavailable or unable to be substituted
                after appropriate evaluation. The products are identified here to
                describe the concept of accessibility tools. Such identification is
                not intended to imply recommendation or endorsement by the U.S.
                Consumer Product Safety Commission nor is it intended to imply that
                the products identified are necessarily the best available for this
                purpose.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.027
                8. Information and Education
                 Since the first safety alert was issued in 1985, CPSC has been
                warning parents of the danger of child strangulation due to corded
                window coverings. Every October, CPSC participates jointly with Window
                Covering Safety Council (WCSC) in National Window Covering Safety Month
                to urge parents and caregivers to check their window coverings for
                exposed and dangling cords and to take precautions. Both CPSC and WCSC
                recommend cordless window coverings at homes where young children live
                or visit.
                 In addition to traditional communication methods, CPSC reaches out
                to consumers using social media, such as safety blogs and online chats,
                to create awareness of the hazards associated with corded window
                coverings. Staff has not assessed the effectiveness of these public
                education campaigns, but given the long history on window covering
                safety campaigns, the campaigns have had limited impact.
                D. Performance Requirements for Operating Cords on Custom Window
                Coverings
                 ANSI/WCMA-2018 contains strong requirements for operating cords on
                stock window coverings. Stock window coverings on the market
                demonstrate the feasibility of safer technologies to meet these
                requirements. Due to the ongoing window covering cord incidents, high
                severity of the outcomes, proven technical feasibility, and the
                ineffectiveness of warnings and safety devices for this class of
                products, CPSC proposes in this NPR to require that operating cords on
                custom window coverings be identical to the requirements for operating
                cords on stock window coverings, as set forth in section 4.3.1 of ANSI/
                WCMA-2018. Section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 requires that operating
                cords be cordless, inaccessible, or 8 inches or shorter.
                 Additionally, this NPR includes a rigid cord shroud requirement
                based on the WCMA Rigid Cord Shroud Task
                [[Page 1039]]
                Group's work that was never balloted.\31\ Implementing the rigid cord
                shroud requirements would allow custom window coverings to meet the
                mandatory rule by using a rigid cord shroud to make an operating cord
                inaccessible.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \31\ Although staff has never seen a stock product with a rigid
                cord shroud, staff encourages WCMA to revise the voluntary standard
                to include this requirement for stock and custom products.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                E. Window Coverings Substantially Comply With the Voluntary Standard
                 The Commission has several bases to determine preliminarily that
                window coverings substantially comply with the requirements for
                operating cords in ANSI/WCMA-2018.\32\ First, WCMA, the trade
                association for window coverings and the body that created the
                voluntary standard, stated in a comment on the ANPR (comment ID:
                CPSC_2013-0028-1555) that there has been substantial compliance with
                the voluntary standard since its first publication. WCMA also stated
                that the association's message to all manufacturers is that, to sell
                window coverings in the United States, compliance with the standard is
                mandatory.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \32\ CPSC staff observes some decline in pediatric incident data
                that suggests compliance with the voluntary standard is effective at
                reducing the number of incidents (see Tab A of Staff's NPR Briefing
                Package for CPSRMS and NCHS data). We expect a similar trend to
                continue for stock products given the substantial improvements made
                to the standard in 2018. However, because window coverings are used
                for many years, and will be replaced over time with safer products
                that conform to the voluntary standard, several more years of
                incident data are required to more definitively demonstrate a
                reduction in incidents.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Additionally, the Commission instructed the staff to investigate
                the level of compliance of window coverings with the voluntary
                standard. CPSC contracted with D+R International, which interviewed
                window covering manufacturers and component manufacturers to collect
                anecdotal information on the distribution of stock and custom product
                sales and the impact of compliance with the voluntary standard (D+R
                International, 2021). Various manufacturers indicated retail customers
                would not stock noncompliant products. Manufacturers are also aware of
                their customers' procedures, and stated that they would not ship to
                them, if there were concerns about the assembly and installation
                process. The D+R report indicates that the voluntary standard has
                caused U.S. window covering manufacturers to design and offer cordless
                lift operations for most stock window covering categories. All
                manufacturers interviewed were aware of the standard and had
                implemented compliance in all stages of their development process, from
                product design to fabrication.
                 CPSC field staff also confirmed compliance of the categorization
                for ``stock'' and ``custom'' window coverings, as defined in the ANSI/
                WCMA standard. CPSC field staff conducted unannounced in-store visits
                to 18 firms, comprising wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers.
                Window coverings in 13 locations demonstrated compliance with the
                voluntary standard for operating cords for stock and custom products.
                However, in four locations, staff observed noncompliance of custom
                window coverings with the ANSI/WCMA standard, including: Length of
                operating cords 40 percent longer than the window covering length, with
                no accompanying specific customer request; lack of warning label; lack
                of manufacturer label; lack of hang tag; and use of a cord tilt,
                instead of wand tilt, without an accompanying specific customer
                request. Staff found one location with a noncomplying stock window
                covering. This stock window covering was being sold with long beaded-
                cord loops in various sizes. Tab E of Staff's NPR Briefing Package
                contains a more detailed description of staff's assessment of
                substantial compliance with the voluntary standard.
                 Finally, CPSC technical staff tested custom product samples, using
                test parameters defined in ANSI/WCMA-2018, with a cord accessibility
                probe and force gauge. The samples tested by staff also indicated a
                high level of conformance in custom products regarding inner cord
                accessibility.
                 Based on incident data, WCMA's statements, contractor report
                findings, and staff's examination and testing of window covering
                products, the Commission preliminarily determines that a substantial
                majority of window coverings sold in the United States comply with the
                readily observable safety characteristics identified in ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                III. Response to Comments on the ANPR
                 On January 16, 2015, the Commission published an ANPR to initiate
                rulemaking and seek information and comment on regulatory options for a
                mandatory rule to address the risk of strangulation to young children
                on window covering cords. The comment period on the ANPR was scheduled
                to end on March 17, 2015. However, in a letter dated February 2, 2015,
                WCMA requested a 75-day extension of the comment period to complete
                multiple studies that WCMA commissioned. The Commission granted WCMA's
                request to extend the comment period for the ANPR until June 1, 2015.
                CPSC received 1,010 comments during the comment period: 748 were in
                favor of a mandatory rule, 254 were against a mandatory rule, and eight
                had no clear opinion.
                 As reviewed in this preamble, since the public comment period on
                the ANPR closed in 2015, the ANSI/WCMA standard has substantially
                improved to effectively address the strangulation risk associated with
                stock window coverings. Accordingly, many of the comments on the ANPR
                have been obviated by updates to the ANSI/WCMA standard, and
                specifically by the requirements for operating cords on stock window
                coverings and requirements for inner cords on stock and custom window
                coverings. Below we summarize the comments received on the ANPR and
                provide responses to the issues raised in the comments.
                A. General Support or Opposition for a Mandatory Standard
                 Comment 1: Seven hundred and forty-eight (748) commenters expressed
                general support for the rulemaking effort, some stating that given the
                hidden nature and severity of the risk, a mandatory standard is
                necessary. Two hundred and fifty-four (254) commenters submitted
                comments disagreeing with the proposed rulemaking, with most suggesting
                that a regulation will have a negative impact on the window covering
                industry.
                 Response 1: Although the Commission supports the changes to the
                ANSI/WCMA standard, as evidenced by the proposed rule under section
                15(j) of the CPSA; an unreasonable risk of injury remains with
                operating cords on custom window coverings. Accordingly, we support a
                mandatory rulemaking to address this unreasonable risk of injury.
                Window coverings should be inherently safe and should not require
                consumer intervention due to the silent, quick, and hidden nature of
                the strangulation hazard. Since the ANPR was published in 2014, 37
                children have died by strangulation on a window covering cord.
                B. Voluntary Standard
                 Comment 2: Several commenters expressed support for the voluntary
                standard and felt that working through the voluntary standards process
                to develop requirements for window coverings would create a more robust
                standard. Other commenters stated that a mandatory standard is
                necessary to address the strangulation hazard because decades have gone
                by and the
                [[Page 1040]]
                number of deaths and permanent injuries associated with window covering
                cords remain consistent. These commenters noted that voluntary
                standards have failed to effectively address the strangulation hazard
                for nearly 20 years.
                 Response 2: CPSC staff worked closely with WCMA since 1995 to
                develop and revise the ANSI/WCMA A100.1 standard. Since the public
                comment period on the ANPR closed in 2015, the WCMA steering committee
                developed and published improvements to the voluntary standard, with
                substantial improvements in the 2018 revision to effectively address
                the strangulation risk associated with stock window coverings. For
                stock window coverings, the ANSI/WCMA standard requires: no operating
                cords, inaccessible cords, or short static cords that do not exceed
                eight inches in length. As detailed in this NPR briefing package, CPSC
                staff assesses that the requirements for operating cords on stock
                window coverings, and the requirements for inner cords on stock and
                custom window coverings, in ANSI/WCMA are adequate to address the risk
                of strangulation. However, ANSI/WCMA-2018 does not adequately address
                the hazard associated with operating cords on custom window coverings.
                 Given the availability of technologies applicable to both stock and
                custom window coverings, and the identical hazard patterns associated
                with cords on stock and custom window coverings, custom window
                coverings can be made as safe as stock window coverings to address the
                strangulation risk to children, by complying with the same operating
                cord requirements as stock window coverings. We agree with commenters
                regarding the timing concern, given that it took 22 years to get to an
                effective voluntary standard for cords on stock window coverings. Based
                on this experience, CPSC staff does not recommend delaying a rule to
                address operating cords on custom window coverings, to wait for the
                ANSI/WCMA standard to address these operating cords, and we concur.
                C. Hazard Communication: Warnings, Public Awareness, and Education
                 Comment 3: At least twelve commenters suggested that the Commission
                should rely on warning labels and educational campaigns to address the
                strangulation hazard. At least seven commenters stated that warning
                labels and educational efforts were tried, did not work, and are
                insufficient to address the strangulation risk.
                 Response 3: Section II.C of this preamble and Tab I of Staff's NPR
                Briefing Package discuss the reasons that warnings are unlikely to
                adequately address the strangulation hazard associated with window
                covering cords. Briefly, warning labels are not likely to be effective
                on products that consumers use frequently and are familiar with,
                because consumers are less likely to look for and read safety
                information. Most of the incident window coverings that CPSC reviewed
                had a permanent warning label on the product. Even well-designed
                warning labels will have limited effectiveness in communicating the
                hazard on this type of product.
                 However, public awareness is a crucial component in making safe
                purchasing decisions and safely using window coverings at home. Public
                information campaigns are on-going. For example, CPSC and the Window
                Covering Safety Council (WCSC) have joined forces to raise awareness
                regarding the strangulation risks presented by window covering cords.
                Since 2003, October has been designated ``Window Covering Safety
                Month'' by CPSC and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC).
                Currently, CPSC does not have information to evaluate the effectiveness
                of public information campaigns on reducing the risk of injury
                associated with corded window coverings. However, CPSC has conducted
                information and education campaigns for several decades on the hazards
                associated with corded window coverings; these efforts have had limited
                effectiveness in reducing injuries and deaths. Accordingly, the
                Commission will not rely solely on education campaigns to address the
                risk of injury and will move forward with rulemaking.
                D. Off-the-Shelf Products
                 Comment 4: At least two commenters suggested that off-the-shelf
                window coverings carry higher risks, because consumers install many
                window coverings incorrectly. One of these commenters suggested that
                consumers typically do not read the installation instructions and are
                not familiar with safety devices, such as cord cleats. Another
                commenter suggested that stock window coverings are more dangerous than
                custom window coverings because stock window coverings can have longer
                lengths of accessible pull cords than custom window coverings, stock
                window covering customers are less likely to get safety information,
                and stock window coverings are likely to be installed by consumers who
                may be unfamiliar with the hazard.
                 Response 4: Based on CPSC staff's assessment, the Commission has
                determined that the requirements for stock window coverings in the 2018
                version of the ANSI/WCMA standard adequately and effectively address
                the operating and inner cord strangulation hazards associated with
                stock products. The standard requires that stock window coverings have:
                No operating cords, cords shorter than 8 inches, or inaccessible cords.
                The standard similarly requires that if inner cords are present, they
                either be inaccessible, or too short to create a loop large enough to
                insert a child's head.
                 The Commission agrees that consumer installation issues should not
                make window coverings less safe. For example, ANSI/WCMA-2018
                requirements for corded stock window coverings are not dependent on
                installation, and the requirements do not rely on safety devices.
                However, ANSI/WCMA-2018 still relies on safety devices, such as cord
                cleats and tension devices, to address the strangulation hazard on
                custom window coverings. Because consumers can choose corded options
                that rely on the installation of external safety devices, and diligent
                monitoring and use of safety devices required of consumers, custom
                window coverings are now less safe than stock window coverings under
                the ANSI/WCMA standard.
                 Although the Commission agrees that consumers may not be as
                knowledgeable about safety devices as professional installers, most of
                the custom products involved in incidents were installed by
                professionals, and yet still lacked safety devices. Educating consumers
                is important to reduce the risk associated with the corded window
                coverings already installed in consumers' homes. However, manufacturing
                inherently safe custom window coverings that are on par with the stock
                window coverings that are compliant with ANSI/WCMA-2018 will have a
                more substantial impact on safety, as stock window coverings now do not
                have to rely on additional, consumer behavior-related measures to make
                the window covering safe.
                E. Impact on Elderly and Disabled Consumers
                 Comment 5: At least eight commenters suggested that cordless
                products will be difficult to use for those consumers who cannot reach
                window coverings to operate the product.
                 Response 5: Although some users have challenges reaching products
                at a height, CPSC staff advises that various tools are currently
                marketed for hard-to
                [[Page 1041]]
                reach locations, such as skylights. Section II.C of this preamble and
                Tab I of Staff's NPR Briefing Package provide examples of these tools.
                Currently available tools and devices can be used to reach custom
                window coverings, and for stock window coverings such tools are already
                being used for this purpose. Some consumers are likely to choose window
                coverings operated via remote control.
                F. Parental Responsibility
                 Comment 6: At least 27 commenters suggested that parents are
                responsible for supervising their children around corded window
                coverings to prevent injuries.
                 Response 6: Strangulation by window covering cords requires only a
                few minutes to occur, and it happens silently. As explained in section
                II.C of this preamble and in Tab I of Staff's NPR Briefing Package,
                parental supervision is unlikely to be effective at eliminating or
                reducing the strangulation hazard, because even young children are left
                unsupervised for a few minutes or more in a room that is considered
                safe, such as bedroom or family room. A more effective solution to the
                window covering cord hazard is to ensure that window coverings do not
                have hazardous cords.
                G. Rental Leases and Real Estate Documents
                 Comment 7: At least 30 commenters suggested some means of informing
                or addressing the corded window covering hazard in rental units. Some
                commenters suggested disclosing the hazards associated with corded
                window coverings to inform renters. Other commenters suggested that
                rental units should replace existing corded window coverings with newer
                and safer window coverings. Some commenters were concerned that tenants
                may not have the option to replace corded window coverings. At least 34
                commenters suggested requiring the disclosure of the presence of corded
                window coverings in real estate documents.
                 Response 7: The Commission shares the commenters' concerns
                regarding window coverings included in rental units where tenants with
                young children may not have the option of choosing safer window
                coverings. Moreover, the real estate sales process is an obvious
                opportunity to inform buyers about the dangers associated with corded
                window coverings, or to remove and replace the hazardous corded window
                coverings. However, CPSC does not have jurisdiction to regulate rental
                homes or real estate sales. Rather, the Commission regulates consumer
                products, wherever consumers may use such products (homes, schools, in
                recreation, or otherwise). State and local authorities likely have the
                authority to regulate what types of defects must be disclosed in real
                estate documents and in rental home transactions, and some states
                already have regulations in place to address window covering cords in
                certain settings, such as daycare centers.
                H. Cost of Safer Products
                 Comment 8: At least 35 commenters stated that safer window
                coverings might be too expensive for some consumers, because
                regulations will increase the cost of window coverings, and motorized
                window coverings cost much more than corded products. At least 108
                commenters suggested that safe alternatives to corded window coverings
                currently exist but are unaffordable. At least 71 commenters stated
                that the price of cordless window coverings will drop due to regulation
                and competition.
                 Response 8: Safer stock window coverings that comply with ANSI/
                WCMA-2018 are currently widely available for sale in the United States.
                Based on a review of currently available window covering products
                completed by D+R International, nearly all available stock window
                coverings in 2021 are cordless. Based on the D+R International (2020)
                study, sales of stock window coverings have remained consistent.
                 Corded products are now only available for custom window coverings.
                Custom window coverings have typically been more expensive than stock
                window covering counterparts because consumers can special order sizes,
                colors, and shapes. As described in the preliminary regulatory
                analysis, section V and in Staff's NPR Briefing Package, if this rule
                is finalized, retail prices for custom products are expected to
                increase by an average of at least 4 percent, price increase will vary
                based on product type. Any custom window covering that cannot meet the
                requirement in the rule for an inaccessible or short operating cord
                must stop offering the product, incorporate a cordless lift system, or
                use a motorized lift system.
                 Based on a review of currently available custom products, motorized
                lift systems may be prohibitively expensive for many consumers and can
                exceed the cost of the window covering in some circumstances. If a
                motorized custom window covering is prohibitively expensive, consumers
                will likely substitute the window covering for another type (i.e.,
                using curtains instead of Roman shades), purchase a less expensive
                stock window covering (which already complies with ANSI/WCMA-2018), or
                purchase a cordless custom window covering with manual operation. If
                operating cords on custom window coverings must comply with the
                proposed rule, consumers will still have affordable window covering
                options.
                I. Incentives for Manufacturers
                 Comment 9: One commenter suggested that CPSC incentivize
                manufactures to design safer, durable, solutions for window coverings
                through grants and awards. Another commenter suggested that individuals
                and small companies need to be incentivized to create new products and
                systems without the need for high-cost research.
                 Response 9: CPSC does not currently have the resources to offer
                grants, subsidies, or awards to firms for development of safer window
                covering products.
                J. Detailed Cost-Benefit Analysis
                 Comment 10: At least three commenters suggested that CPSC must
                prepare a detailed cost and benefit analysis.
                 Response 10: CPSC staff developed a preliminary regulatory
                analysis, as required by the CPSA, with a preliminary description of
                the potential benefits and potential costs of the proposed rule,
                including any benefits or costs that cannot be quantified in monetary
                terms, and an identification of those likely to receive the benefits
                and bear the costs. Section V of this preamble and Tab K of Staff's NPR
                Briefing Package contain this preliminary regulatory analysis.
                K. Small Versus Large Businesses
                 Comment 11: One commenter stated that larger corporations that
                manufacturer ``hard'' window coverings would have an unfair advantage
                over smaller manufacturers of ``soft'' window coverings if the CPSC
                issues a mandatory regulation for window coverings, because hard window
                coverings could more easily comply with a mandatory rule.
                 Response 11: Stock window coverings that comply with ANSI/WCMA-2018
                are available in both soft and hard types, and implementation of safer
                window covering technologies has been proven for both types of window
                coverings. As stated in the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for
                custom window coverings, section VI of this preamble and Tab J of
                Staff's NPR Briefing Package, CPSC expects significant cost impacts on
                small manufacturers of custom products, but these costs are not
                [[Page 1042]]
                limited to small manufacturers of certain window covering types. The
                cost impacts of a rule on operating cords for custom window coverings
                vary by product type. However, CPSC expects that small manufacturers of
                all custom window covering product types will have significant cost
                impacts (i.e., those that exceed 1 percent of annual revenue)
                associated with the mandatory rule.
                L. Product Options
                 Comment 12: At least 40 commenters suggested that consumers may
                want to have different options to serve their different window covering
                needs, and that reducing options that are available to consumers is not
                preferable.
                 Response 12: Stock products currently on the market that comply
                with ANSI/WCMA-2018 are available in a variety of materials, sizes, and
                types to meet consumer needs. Based on the currently available window
                covering operating systems, the only product type that is unlikely to
                keep the traditional design and still meet the proposed rule would be
                roll-up style shades, as they are lifted and lowered using lifting
                loops that are accessible and hazardous. The window covering industry
                is innovative; roll-up shades could be replaced with a window covering
                option that meets the same purpose and is safe.
                M. Product Reliability
                 Comment 13: One commenter suggested that motors are not as reliable
                as cords on window coverings, because motors are more complex and
                require electricity. Two commenters suggested that cordless window
                coverings do not last long compared to corded versions.
                 Response 13: Cordless or motorized cordless window coverings are
                not the only option for a safer window covering that complies with the
                operating cord requirements in section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018. Corded
                window covering options are available and comply with section 4.3.1 of
                the ANSI standard if accessible cords are 8 inches or shorter or if the
                cords are made inaccessible using a rigid cord shroud. WCMA stated in
                their response to the ANPR that the expected product life for a window
                covering is 10 years for a custom-made window covering and 3-5 years
                for a stock window covering. CPSC does not have information on product
                life averages for each safer window covering technology.
                N. Incidents/Risk
                 Comment 14: Several commenters suggested that children die from
                interacting with household products other than window covering cords,
                and some commenters suggested that the risk of strangulation on window
                covering cords is low.
                 Response 14: The Commission is well-aware that children are injured
                and die from interacting with other household products. CPSC reviews
                injury and death reports daily, has a database of these incidents,
                studies the incidents, and responds to the identified hazards, because
                our statutory mission is to protect consumers from the risk of injury
                associated with consumer products. The fact that other products also
                are associated with injuries and death does not diminish the
                seriousness of each hazard, and CPSC tries to use our authorities to
                address injuries on all hazards associated with consumer products. The
                strangulation hazard to young children on window covering cords is
                serious, with most incidents resulting in death. The strangulation
                hazard is a ``hidden hazard,'' because many people do not understand or
                appreciate the hazard, and do not take appropriate steps to prevent
                death and injury. As reviewed in section II.C and Tab I of Staff's NPR
                Briefing Package, other means of addressing deaths and injuries, such
                as warning labels, parental supervision, and education campaigns, have
                not been effective at reducing deaths and injuries, and are unlikely to
                be effective in the future. However, performance requirements for
                window covering cords will effectively reduce the risk of death and
                injury to young children on window covering cords.
                O. Stories of Loss
                 Comment 15: Over 500 commenters either were personally affected by
                a window covering cord injury or death or knew someone who was affected
                by a death.
                 Response 15: The Commission appreciates the courage of these
                consumers in sharing their stories. To each of these parents, family
                members, and loved ones, we thank you for sharing these stories and we
                are deeply sorry for your loss. The Commission has taken the
                information about the interactions and conditions involved in the
                incidents into consideration in developing proposed rules for stock and
                custom window coverings.
                IV. Description of the Proposed Rule
                 Section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 sets forth the performance
                requirements for operating cords on stock window coverings (see Table
                7). The Commission has determined that these operating cord performance
                requirements are adequate and effective to reduce or eliminate the
                unreasonable risk of strangulation to children 8 years old or younger
                on window covering cords (see section II.A of this preamble). The
                Commission has further determined that the requirements for operating
                cords on custom window coverings in section 4.3.2 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 are
                inadequate to address the risk of strangulation. Accordingly, the
                Commission proposes to require that operating cords on custom window
                coverings comply with the same performance requirements for operating
                cords on stock window coverings in section 4.3.1, instead of the
                requirements in section 4.3.2, of ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                 Table 7--Requirements for Operating Cords on Stock Window Coverings in
                 ANSI/WCMA-2018
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Stock window coverings section of the
                 standard Explanation
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                A. Operating cord:
                 4.3.1.1 Cordless Operating System, (a) Operating cord not present
                 ``The product shall have no or
                 operating cords''.
                 4.3.1.2 Short Static or Access (b) Operating cord is 8 inches
                 Cords, ``The product shall have a or shorter in any use position
                 Short Cord''. or
                 4.3.1.3 Inaccessible Operating (c) Operating cord is
                 Cords, ``The operating cords shall inaccessible when tested using
                 be inaccessible as determined per cord shroud accessibility
                 the test requirements in Appendix probe.
                 C: Test Procedure for Accessible
                 Cords''.
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                [[Page 1043]]
                A. Description of Proposed Section 1260.1--Scope and Definitions
                 Proposed section 1260.1, scope and definitions, describes the scope
                of the proposed rule and provides relevant definitions. The
                Commission's intent is to remain consistent with the ANSI standard for
                window coverings with regard to definitions, and the requirements for
                operating cords in section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018. Section 1260.1(a)
                limits the scope of the proposed rule to operating cords on custom
                window coverings. The risk of injury associated with inner cords on
                custom window coverings, and operating and inner cords on stock window
                coverings, are addressed in a separate proposed rule under section
                15(j) of the CPSA. Section 1260.1(b) incorporates by reference several
                definitions in section 3 of ANSI/WCMA-2018. Below we set forth the
                terms and explain how these terms are defined in the ANSI standard.
                 ``custom window covering,'' definition 5.01 of ANSI/WCMA-
                2018, is a window covering that is not a stock window covering.
                 ``stock window covering'' definition 5.02 of ANSI/WCMA-
                2018, is a product that is a completely or substantially fabricated
                product prior to being distributed in commerce and is a stock-keeping
                unit (SKU). For example, even when the seller, manufacturer, or
                distributor modifies a pre-assembled product by adjusting to size,
                attaching the top rail or bottom rail, or tying cords to secure the
                bottom rail, the product is still considered stock under the ANSI
                standard. Online sales of the product or the size of the order, such as
                multi-family housing, do not make the product a non-stock product.
                These examples are provided in ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2018 to clarify that as
                long as the product is ``substantially fabricated,'' subsequent changes
                to the product do not change its categorization.
                 ``operating cord,'' definition 2.19 of ANSI/WCMA-2018, is
                a cord that the user manipulates to use the window covering, such as
                lifting, lowering, tilting, rotating, and traversing. An example
                operating cord is pictured in Figure 8 of this preamble.
                 ``cord shroud,'' definition 2.09 of ANSI/WCMA-2018, is
                material that is added around a cord to prevent a child from accessing
                the cord and to prevent the cord from creating a loop. Defining a cord
                shroud in the proposed rule is necessary because the Commission is
                proposing to include a test for a ``rigid cord shroud'' in 1260.2(b),
                to meet the inaccessibility requirement in section 4.3.1.3.
                 The Commission is adding a definition for ``rigid cord shroud'' in
                proposed 1260.1(c) based on work by the voluntary standards task group
                in 2018. A ``rigid cord shroud'' is not currently defined in the
                standard but is a hard material that encases an operating cord to
                prevent a child from accessing an operating cord.
                B. Explanation of Proposed 1260.2--Requirements for Operating Cords on
                Custom Window Coverings
                 Proposed section 1260.2 sets forth the requirements for operating
                cords on custom window coverings. Section 1260.2(a) would require that
                each operating cord on a custom window covering comply with section
                4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 (operating cord not present (section 4.3.1.1));
                operating cord is inaccessible (section 4.3.1.3); or operating cord is
                eight inches long or shorter in any position of the window covering
                (section 4.3.1.2), instead of the current requirements for operating
                cords on custom products in section 4.3.2 of ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                 Section 1260.2(b) contains a proposed requirement for rigid cord
                shrouds, when they are used to comply with section 1260.2(a), to make
                an operating cord inaccessible. Proposed sections 1260.2(c) and (d)
                contain the test methods to confirm whether a cord shroud is ``rigid.''
                The requirements for rigid cord shrouds are not currently in the ANSI/
                WCMA standard. An ANSI/WCMA task group worked on a test method in 2018
                to clarify ``rigid'' by confirming that a cord shroud is rigid enough
                to ensure that the shroud cannot be wrapped around a child's neck or
                won't form a u-shape as a result of attaching the free end of the
                shroud to the wall (similar to hazards associated with a single cord).
                ANSI/WCMA has never balloted these provisions.
                 For this proposed rule, CPSC staff developed a similar test method
                based on the ANSI task group work. The proposed rigid cord shroud
                requirements include two tests, the ``Center Load'' test and the
                ``Axial Torque'' test. The Center Load test verifies the stiffness of
                the cord shroud, by measuring the amount of deflection in the shroud
                when both ends are mounted and a 5-pound force is applied at the mid-
                point. This test ensures the shroud is not flexible enough to wrap
                around a child's neck. The Axial Torque test verifies the cord shroud's
                opening does not enlarge to create an accessible cord opening when the
                shroud is twisted.
                 CPSC is not aware of incidents related to current products with
                rigid cord shrouds and concludes that shrouds that meet the proposed
                modifications to the ANSI/WCMA standard will address the strangulation
                hazard posed by accessible cords. Section II.A of this preamble and
                Tabs G and H of Staff's NPR Briefing Package contain further
                explanation and the proposed language related to cord shrouds.
                C. Explanation of Proposed 1260.3--Prohibited Stockpiling
                 The purpose of proposed 1260.3 is to prohibit manufacturers and
                importers from stockpiling products that will be subject to a mandatory
                rule, in an attempt to circumvent the final rule. The Commission's
                authority to issue an anti-stockpiling provision is in section 9(g)(2)
                of the CPSA. 15 U.S.C. 2058(g)(2). Proposed 1260.3(a) prohibits
                manufacturers and importers of custom window coverings from
                manufacturing or importing custom window coverings that do not comply
                with the requirements of the proposed rule in any 12-month period
                between the date of the final rule publishing the in the Federal
                Register and the effective date of the rule, at a rate that is greater
                than 120 percent of the rate at which they manufactured or imported
                custom window coverings during the base period for the manufacturer.
                 The base period is set forth in proposed 1260.3(b) and is described
                as any period of 365 consecutive days, chosen by the manufacturer or
                importer, in the 5-year period immediately preceding promulgation of
                the final rule. ``Promulgation'' means the date the final rule is
                published in the Federal Register.
                 The proposed stockpiling limit is intended to allow manufacturers
                and importers sufficient flexibility to meet normal levels and
                fluctuations in demand for custom window coverings, while limiting the
                ability to stockpile large quantities that do not comply with the rule
                for sale after the effective date. Thus, the stockpiling limit would
                allow manufacturers and the industry to meet any foreseeable increase
                in the demand for custom window coverings, without allowing large
                quantities of custom window coverings to be stockpiled.
                 Custom products are typically made to order, so it is unlikely that
                a firm would manufacture large quantities in advance of demand.
                Therefore, this anti-stockpiling provision should not adversely impact
                manufacturers. However, firms will need to modify their window
                coverings to comply with the proposed requirements, and the
                modifications may be costly.
                [[Page 1044]]
                Accordingly, CPSC believes it is appropriate to prevent stockpiling of
                noncompliant custom window coverings.
                D. Explanation of Proposed 1260.4--Findings
                 The findings required by section 9 of the CPSA are discussed in
                section XIII of this preamble.
                E. Explanation of Proposed 1260.5--Standards Incorporated by Reference
                 Proposed Sec. 1260.5 contains the information required by the
                Office of the Federal Register (OFR) to incorporate by reference the
                requirements in section 4.3.1, and the relevant definitions in section
                3, of ANSI/WCMA-2018. As set forth in section XII of this preamble, the
                Commission has met the OFR's procedural requirements to incorporate by
                reference the relevant parts of ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                V. Preliminary Regulatory Analysis
                 A proposed consumer product safety rule published in the Federal
                Register in accordance with the requirements of section 9 of the CPSA
                must include a preliminary regulatory analysis that contains: A
                preliminary description of the potential benefits and potential costs
                of the proposed rule; a discussion of the reasons any standard or
                portion of a standard submitted to the Commission under subsection
                (a)(5) was not published by the Commission as the proposed rule or part
                of the proposed rule; a discussion of the reasons for the Commission's
                preliminary determination that efforts proposed under subsection (a)(6)
                and assisted by the Commission as required by section 5(a)(3) [15
                U.S.C. 2054 (a)(3)] would not, within a reasonable period of time, be
                likely to result in the development of a voluntary consumer product
                safety standard that would eliminate or adequately reduce the risk of
                injury addressed by the proposed rule; and a description of any
                reasonable alternatives to the proposed rule, together with a summary
                description of their potential costs and benefits, and a brief
                explanation of why such alternatives should not be published as a
                proposed rule. The information and analysis in this section is based on
                Tab K of Staff's NPR Briefing Package.
                A. Preliminary Discussion of Potential Benefits and Costs of the Rule
                 Based on the estimated 9 fatal injuries involving corded window
                coverings per year, the societal costs of these fatal injuries are
                about $82.8 million annually. Based on the estimate of about 185
                nonfatal window covering injuries annually from CPSC's Injury Cost
                Model (ICM), staff estimates that the societal costs of nonfatal window
                covering injuries are approximately $9.3 million annually. Overall,
                staff estimates the societal costs of fatal and nonfatal injuries to be
                about $92.1 million annually. Because staff assesses that the voluntary
                standard adequately addresses the risk of injury associated with stock
                window coverings, and because operating and inner cord hazards on stock
                window coverings, and inner cord hazards on custom window coverings,
                are the subject of a separate proposed rule under section 15(j) of the
                CPSA, this proposed rule under sections 7 and 9 of the CPSA would only
                address the injuries attributable to operating cords on custom window
                coverings. Staff estimates the proportion of injuries attributable to
                operating cords on custom products to be approximately $53.9 million
                annually, based on a CPSC review of reported incidents.
                 The present value of societal cost per window covering unit ranged
                from $0.92 for cellular, pleated, and roller shades, $1.57 for Roman
                shades, $3.61 for wood and faux wood horizontal blinds, $1.34 for
                metal/vinyl horizontal blinds, $7.56 for vertical blinds, and $0.14 for
                curtains/drapes. Combining these estimates with one year of corded
                custom window covering sales (2019) amounts to a gross annual benefit
                of $52.3 million. Adjusting this estimate for the expected
                effectiveness of the proposed rule, because not all incidents
                associated with custom window coverings involved operating cords,
                equates to a total annual benefit of approximately $49.5 million.
                 Based on component cost estimates, assembly/manufacturing costs,
                and proportions of domestic manufacturing, the increased cost per
                corded custom window covering produced would range from $2.15 to
                $34.57, an average of at least 4 percent of the retail price, and is
                highly dependent on product type. The proposed rule is not expected to
                result in any cost increases for cordless custom window coverings, and
                as such, aggregate costs are calculated on only corded custom products.
                Aggregate cost estimates range between $156.5 million to $309 million
                based on 2019 custom sales estimate of $61.58 million with a per unit
                cost increase, and the percentage of corded custom sales, which are
                estimated as 65 percent of custom window covering unit sales.
                 Many sources of uncertainty are inherent in a complex cost-benefit
                analysis because of using estimated parameters, inputs from several
                models, assumptions based on expert judgement, and public/private data.
                This analysis includes uncertainty related to cost estimate
                calculations, the value of statistical life, the number of corded
                window coverings in use, and the expected product life for certain
                blind types. The cost studies from which staff derived all of the cost
                estimates could be outdated, given the first study was completed in
                2016, about 2 years before WCMA revised the voluntary standard for
                stock products. Economies of scale could have reduced costs related to
                cordless components since the completion of the first cost study in
                2016.\33\ For example, prices for custom window coverings are, on
                average, higher than those for stock products, which are already
                required to comply with section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018. Although
                prices of stock window coverings have increased since the revised
                voluntary standard went into effect in 2018, sales of stock products
                remain consistent.\34\ For custom products that already have higher
                prices, consumers may be willing to pay more for a safer window
                covering without affecting sales, similar to stock window coverings.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \33\ Staff notes, though, that the low-end cost could also be an
                underestimate for a rule involving custom products, because the cost
                study, from which the estimate is derived, mostly analyzed stock
                products with an assumed high-volume production in China, which is
                less applicable for custom than for stock.
                 \34\ Staff does not have information on detailed sales data to
                determine the impact of the ANSI/WCMA-2018 on stock products. CPSC
                contractor (D+R) aimed to identify the share of custom versus stock
                sales over time to understand how the window covering market has
                changed in response to the ANSI/WCMA-2018 as the standard primarily
                impacts stock products. Researchers considered that metal/vinyl
                blinds, roller shades, vertical blinds, and wood/faux wood blinds
                are the categories that should be most affected by the standard,
                given their large share in stock product sales. They assumed that if
                these categories had an increase in custom sales after 2018, it
                would indicate that the cordless operation could be one of the
                factors driving consumers towards purchasing custom products with
                corded operation, despite the higher price points. However,
                researchers' projections indicate that there is not a consistent
                trend towards greater custom sales, and in the case of metal/vinyl
                blinds, there is an increasing share of stock sales over time.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Another example of uncertainty in the analysis is related to the
                value of statistical life (VSL). Staff valued the benefit of reducing
                fatal incidents at $9.2 million each, which, as discussed in Tab K of
                Staff's NPR Briefing Package, is in-line with most reasonable estimates
                of the value of a statistical life. Staff noted though that there has
                been some discussion in the literature suggesting that people might be
                willing to spend more for a small reduction in the risk to children
                than they are for the same reduction in their own risk. A review of the
                literature conducted for the CPSC suggested that the VSL for
                [[Page 1045]]
                children could exceed that of adults by a factor of 1.2 to 3, with a
                midpoint of around 2 (IEc, 2018). If we increase the VSL by a factor of
                3, the estimated VSL would equate to $27.6 million per life, increasing
                the total benefits of the rule to an estimated $136.9 million annually.
                See Table 11 in Tab K of Staff's NPR Briefing Package.
                 Additionally, the assumption used to create the estimate of corded
                products in the market is based on interviews with manufacturers and
                retailers, some of whom gave conflicting accounts. The estimate is not
                based on exposure surveys, and thus, the actual number of corded custom
                products could be higher or lower than the estimate used in the base
                analysis; and, we have no basis for stating whether we think we have
                over or underestimated the number.
                 Lastly, the estimated product life used in the analysis for vinyl
                and metal horizontal blinds was significantly shorter than for the
                other products. This estimate was based on work completed by D+R for
                the Department of Energy (2013). However, it is possible that this
                estimate is skewed because of the dominance of stock in this category.
                Custom window coverings have a longer product life. For example, WCMA
                stated in their response to the ANPR that the expected product life for
                a custom window covering is 10 years and is 3-5 years for a stock
                window covering. CPSC staff expects a higher per-unit benefit for
                custom products because of the longer expected product life.
                B. Reasons for Not Relying on a Voluntary Standard
                 Given improvements in the voluntary standard for operating and
                inner cords on stock window coverings, and inner cords on custom window
                coverings, the Commission considered whether the agency could rely on
                the current voluntary standard, ANSI/WCMA-2018, instead of issuing a
                mandatory rule for operating cords on custom window coverings. However,
                as reviewed in section II of this preamble, staff assessed that
                operating cord requirements for custom products in ANSI/WCMA-2018 are
                inadequate to effectively address an unreasonable risk of strangulation
                to children 8 years old and younger associated with custom window
                coverings. Requirements in the voluntary standard still allow operating
                cords on custom window coverings to be accessible and to be longer than
                8 inches.
                 Moreover, the Commission finds it unlikely that the ANSI/WCMA
                standard will be modified to address the risk of injury associated with
                operating cords on custom window coverings in the near term, or in the
                long term. CPSC's previous efforts to work with ANSI/WCMA for an
                effective standard for stock window coverings required more than two
                decades of development by WCMA. In addition, WCMA did not agree with
                recommendations from other stakeholders, including consumer advocates
                and CPSC staff, to require the stock product requirements for custom
                window coverings. WCMA resists safer custom window coverings, even
                though cord requirements to remove the strangulation hazard (cordless,
                inaccessible cords, or short cords) are well known by CPSC and the
                industry and the technologies to achieve this have been developed and
                are being used to manufacturer both stock and custom window coverings.
                Therefore, based on WCMA's position on operating cords on custom
                products, and on past experience, the Commission finds it unlikely that
                an effective voluntary standard addressing the operating cord hazards
                on custom window coverings will be developed within a reasonable
                period.
                C. Alternatives to the Proposed Rule
                 The Commission considered several alternatives to issuing a
                mandatory standard for operating cords on custom window coverings.
                These alternatives included: (1) Not issuing a mandatory rule, but
                instead relying upon voluntary standards; (2) improving the voluntary
                standard ANSI/WCMA-2018; (3) using a later effective date; (4)
                narrowing the scope of the rule to address only vertical blinds and
                curtains and drapes; and (5) continuing and improving information and
                education campaigns.
                1. No Mandatory Standard; Rely on Voluntary Standard
                 If CPSC did not issue a mandatory standard, the Commission believes
                that most manufacturers would comply with ANSI/WCMA-2018, because
                manufacturers already substantially comply with the voluntary standard.
                However, ANSI/WCMA-2018 allows custom window coverings to be produced
                with hazardous operating cords, and CPSC concludes that the
                requirements for operating cords associated with custom window
                coverings in ANSI/WCMA-2018 are inadequate to protect children from the
                risk of strangulation. Not mandating a standard would not impose any
                additional costs on manufacturers; neither would it result in any
                additional benefits in terms of reduced deaths and injuries to
                children. CPSC staff does not recommend that the Commission pursue this
                option.
                2. Improve Voluntary Standard for Window Coverings
                 The Commission also considered directing CPSC staff to continue
                participating in voluntary standards development and encouraging safety
                improvements to the voluntary standard for window coverings, ANSI/WCMA-
                2018. This option would be similar to the ``no action alternative,''
                with the key difference being that the Commission could direct staff to
                pursue safety improvements in the voluntary standard, including
                applying the requirements for operating cords on stock window coverings
                to custom window coverings, as a conditional alternative to a mandatory
                standard. The Commission could then reconsider a mandatory standard if
                efforts to improve the voluntary standard for custom products remain
                unsatisfactory.
                 Although CPSC staff supports recent changes in the voluntary
                standard creating requirements for cordless/short cords/inaccessible
                cords on stock products, more descriptive warning labels, and materials
                describing the strangulation hazard, staff does not recommend that the
                Commission pursue this option. In the past, WCMA rejected initiatives
                for operating cords on custom products to be cordless, or to not have
                accessible cords longer than 8 inches in length. Based on staff's
                previous experience with WCMA, and the length of time it took for WCMA
                to update the voluntary standard to require cordless stock products (22
                years), the Commission does not believe that WCMA is likely to improve
                the voluntary standard for custom products in a timely manner.
                3. Later Effective Date
                 The proposed rule includes an effective date that is 180 days after
                the final rule is published in the Federal Register. Because some
                manufacturers may need to redesign certain custom window coverings of
                unusual sizes to accommodate a cordless operation, a later effective
                date would allow manufacturers more time to redesign and spread the
                research and development costs or eliminate product variants that
                cannot be switched to cordless operation. Based on staff's analysis,
                the Commission believes it is unlikely that any manufacturer (large or
                small) would leave the window covering market as a result of the
                proposed rule. Nevertheless, elimination of some product sizes is
                possible because conversion to cordless operation may not be feasible
                for some large or unusual sizes.
                [[Page 1046]]
                 Providing a later effective date for the custom window covering
                rule would mitigate some of the costs related to redesign/research and
                development for manufacturers. However, if cordless operation is not
                feasible, a reduction in sales would occur if a consumer could not find
                a suitable alternative. Given the potential for large costs for some
                products to conform per unit to the proposed rule, delaying the
                effective date would be expected to reduce costs.
                4. Narrow Proposed Rule to Vertical Blinds, Curtains, and Drapes
                 The Commission could narrow the proposed rule to address only the
                hazards associated with operating cords on custom vertical blinds,
                curtains, and drapes, on the grounds that cords are not critical to the
                operation of these products. These custom products typically offer
                cordless options at no additional cost because, for most applications,
                a plastic rod can be used for operation. Narrowing the proposed rule to
                these three product types would lessen the cost impact and make it
                unlikely that any particular product type and/or size would be
                eliminated. Under this alternative, the costs are expected to be near
                $0 because using plastic rods for operation is very similar to cords in
                cost.
                 However, only 2 of the 35 custom product incidents (both are
                fatalities) were associated with vertical blinds, and there were no
                curtain or drape incidents where the stock/custom classification could
                be determined. Because of the limited presence of vertical blinds in
                custom product incidents (5.7 percent), this option is unlikely to be
                effective in reducing injuries and deaths.
                5. Continue and Improve Information and Education Campaign
                 The Commission could work to improve the current information and
                education campaign concerning the strangulation hazard associated with
                custom corded window covering products. Information and education
                campaigns on corded window coverings that have been continuing for
                decades have had limited effectiveness in the reduction of injuries and
                deaths. Accordingly, the Commission will not rely solely on education
                campaigns to address the risk of injury.
                VI. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis 35
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \35\ The RFA analysis is based on Tab F of Staff's NPR Briefing
                Package.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Whenever an agency publishes a proposed rule, the Regulatory
                Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612) requires that the agency prepare an
                initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) that describes the
                impact that the rule would have on small businesses and other entities,
                unless the agency has a factual basis for certifying that the proposed
                rule ``will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial
                number of small entities.'' \36\ The IRFA must contain--
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \36\ 5 U.S.C. 605 (b) of The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980,
                as amended. Available at https://www.sba.gov/advocacy/regulatory-flexibility-act.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 (1) a description of why action by the agency is being considered;
                 (2) a succinct statement of the objectives of, and legal basis for,
                the proposed rule;
                 (3) a description of and, where feasible, an estimate of the number
                of small entities to which the proposed rule will apply;
                 (4) a description of the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and
                other compliance requirements of the proposed rule, including an
                estimate of the classes of small entities which will be subject to the
                requirement and the type of professional skills necessary for
                preparation of the report or record; and
                 (5) an identification to the extent practicable, of all relevant
                Federal rules which may duplicate, overlap or conflict with the
                proposed rule.
                 An IRFA must also contain a description of any significant
                alternatives that would accomplish the stated objectives of the
                applicable statutes and which would minimize any significant economic
                impact of the proposed rule on small entities.
                A. Reason for Agency Action
                 The proposed rule is intended to address the strangulation hazard
                to children 8 years and younger associated with operating cords on
                custom window coverings. Based on an analysis of the relevant data, as
                set forth in section I.E of this preamble and Tab A of Staff's NPR
                Briefing Package, staff reports an average of 9 fatal injuries annually
                to children less than 5 years old. Staff estimates the societal costs
                of these fatal injuries to be about $82.8 million annually. Based on
                the estimate of about 185 nonfatal window covering injuries annually
                from CPSC's Injury Cost Model (ICM), staff estimates the societal costs
                of nonfatal window covering injuries are approximately $9.3 million.
                Combining these estimates amounts to annual societal costs associated
                with corded window coverings of approximately $92.1 million. The
                proposed rule only addresses injuries attributable to custom window
                coverings. Based on a CPSC review of 194 reported incidents, the
                proportion of injuries attributable to custom window coverings is
                approximately $53.9 million annually.
                 The NPR proposes that operating cords on custom window coverings be
                subject to the same requirements in section 4.3.1 ANSI/WCMA-2018 that
                currently apply to operating cords on stock window coverings. Based on
                staff's expertise and analysis of window covering cord incidents, the
                Commission has determined that these requirements are effective at
                preventing strangulations for operating cords on stock window coverings
                and would be equally effective when applied to operating cords on
                custom window coverings.
                B. Objectives of and Legal Basis for the Rule
                 The objective of the rule is to reduce or eliminate an unreasonable
                risk of injury or death to children 8 years old or younger associated
                with operating cords on custom window coverings. The Commission issues
                this proposed rule under the authority in sections 7 and 9 of the CPSA.
                C. Small Entities to Which the Rule Will Apply
                 Under SBA guidelines, a manufacturer of window coverings is
                categorized as small if the firm has fewer than 1,000 employees,
                retailers are considered small if they have sales revenue less than
                $8.0 million, and importers if the firm has fewer than 100 employees.
                Based on 2017 data, 1,898 firms were categorized as blinds and shades
                manufacturers and retailers (Census Bureau, 2020).\37\ Of these, about
                1,840 firms (302 manufacturers and 1,538 retailers) are small. As the
                NAICS code for importers is non-specific to window coverings, CPSC
                staff reviewed Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) data, firm financial
                reports, and Dun & Bradstreet reports to obtain a more precise estimate
                of importers. Based on this research, CPSC staff estimates that there
                are approximately 83 importers
                [[Page 1047]]
                that meet the SBA guidelines for a small business (Laciak 2020).
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \37\ The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
                defines product codes for United States firms. Firms that
                manufacture window coverings may list their business under the NAICS
                product code for blinds and shades manufacturers (337920 Blind and
                Shade Manufacturing) or retailers (442291 Window Treatment Stores).
                The two product codes 337920 and 442291 encompass most products in
                the window coverings market. However, some drapery and curtain
                manufacturers may be listed under 322230, stationary product
                manufacturing. Importers of window coverings are generally listed in
                Home Furnishing Merchant Wholesalers (423220), which includes other
                home furnishing items and is non-specific to window coverings.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Nearly all of the 302 staff-identified small manufacturers are far
                below the 1,000 employee SBA threshold. Two hundred thirty-eight (238)
                of the manufacturers have fewer than 20 employees, and 151 have fewer
                than 5 employees. CPSC staff estimates that the annual revenue for the
                firms with fewer than 20 employees to be under $250,000. Most of the
                firms with fewer than 5 employees manufacture custom window coverings
                on a per order basis. The annual revenue for these manufacturers is
                most likely below $25,000, based on estimates from the Nonemployer
                Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Staff estimates that the
                annual revenues for the remaining small manufacturers, those with more
                than 20 employees, are between $300,000 to $2,000,000.
                D. Compliance Requirements of the Proposed Rule, Including Reporting
                and Recordkeeping Requirements
                 The proposed rule would establish a performance standard for
                operating cords on custom window coverings, requiring that they meet
                the same requirements as operating cords on stock window coverings
                under section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018. To comply with the performance
                requirements, all accessible operating cords would need to be removed,
                made inaccessible, or shortened to 8 inches or less in any use
                position.
                 Under section 14 of the CPSA, as codified in 16 CFR part 1110,
                manufacturers and importers of custom window coverings will be required
                to certify (General Certificate of Conformity, or GCC), based on a test
                of each product or upon a reasonable testing program, that their window
                coverings comply with the requirements in the rule. If the custom
                window covering is a children's product, the window covering must be
                third party tested and certified (Children's Product Certificate, or
                CPC) for compliance with the rule. Each certificate of compliance must
                identify the manufacturer or importer issuing the certificate and any
                manufacturer, firm, or third party conformity assessment body on whose
                testing the certificate depends. The certificate must be legible and in
                English and include the date and place of manufacture, the date and
                place where the product was tested, including the full mailing address
                and telephone number for each party, and the contact information for
                the person responsible for maintaining records of the test results. The
                certificates may be in electronic format and must be provided to each
                distributor or retailer of the product. Upon request, the certificates
                must also be provided to the CPSC and Customs and Border Protection
                (CBP).\38\
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \38\ The regulations governing the content, form, and
                availability of the certificates of compliance are codified at 16
                CFR part 1110. Additional requirements for testing and certification
                of children's products are codified at 16 CFR part 1107.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                E. Costs of Proposed Rule That Would Be Incurred by Small Manufacturers
                 Custom window covering manufacturers would most likely adopt
                cordless lift operation systems to comply with the proposed rule. As
                discussed in section V of this preamble, and in Tab K of Staff's NPR
                Briefing Package, the preliminary regulatory analysis estimates the
                cost to modify window covering lift systems with the proposed rule
                ranges from $2.95 to $9.65 per horizontal blind, $2.15 to $34.57 per
                shade, and no expected cost increase for vertical blinds and curtains/
                drapes. CPSC staff does not have estimates of redesign costs but
                expects that these costs will be small given the already wide
                availability of product designs with inaccessible cords.\39\ CPSC staff
                expects component costs to be significant, as inaccessible cord
                operation is expensive.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \39\ Based on interviews with window covering manufacturers
                there may be some size and placement limitations related in-
                accessible cord designs. These limitations can be addressed with
                motorization of the product but it is prohibitively expensive as
                many motorized systems can cost more than the window covering
                product itself.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Estimates of the costs to modify three types of window coverings in
                Panchal (2016) indicate that, at a minimum, the costs to modify will
                range from 2 to 11 percent of retail prices. Panchal (2016) used a
                product archeology approach, supplemented by standard models for
                calculating only manufacturing and assembly costs, to estimate the
                incremental cost of implementing standard manual uncorded technology
                for entry-level stock window coverings--the type of window coverings
                that are available for purchase off-the-shelf from home improvement
                stores. Hence his estimates are most applicable to the more basic and
                inexpensive uncorded products at the low end of the window coverings
                market. Panchal's analysis does not account for any costs associated
                with product development and design innovations, testing, licensing of
                technology, manufacturing restrictions due to existing patents, and
                training of personnel, which would add further costs to implementing
                uncorded technologies. Panchal's analysis was also conducted two years
                before the ANSI standard was revised to require safer operating cords
                on stock window coverings in December 2018.
                 Manufacturers would likely incur some additional costs to certify
                that their window coverings meet the requirements of the proposed rule
                as required by Section 14 of the CPSA. The certification must be based
                on a test of each product or a reasonable testing program. WCMA
                developed a certification program for window covering products, titled
                ``Best for Kids,'' which includes third party testing of products for
                accessible cords. CPSC staff believes this testing and certification
                program would meet the requirements in Section 14 of the CPSA, as long
                as the test laboratories are CPSC-accepted. Based on quotes from
                testing laboratory services for consumer products, the cost of the
                certification testing will range from $290 to $540 per window covering
                model.\40\ Note that the requirement to certify compliance with all
                product safety rules, based on a reasonable testing program, is a
                requirement of the CPSA and not of the proposed rule.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \40\ Based on quotes from firms to conduct certification tests
                to the current WCMA voluntary standard on window covering products
                currently available at retailers.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Based on discussion in the Commission's proposed rule on stock
                window covering cords (Proposed rule to Amend 16 CFR part 1120, CPSC
                Docket No. CPSC-2021-0038), which evaluates the requirements in section
                4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 to be ``readily observable,'' a reasonable
                testing program for nonchildren's custom window coverings could entail
                a simple visual inspection of products by the manufacturer, and simple
                measurements of the length of any accessible cord. Therefore, the cost
                of a reasonable testing program for compliance with the proposed rule
                is likely much lower than the cost of conducting a third party
                certification testing for children's products.
                F. Impact on Small Manufacturers
                 To comply with the proposed rule, staff expects small manufacturers
                to incur redesign and incremental component costs, described above, for
                some product lines which currently are not available with inaccessible
                cords. Staff does not expect small manufacturers to suffer a
                disproportionate cost effect from the proposed rule, because the cost
                calculations and research were completed on a per unit basis; staff
                expects little if any redesign costs. Staff expects small manufacturers
                of window
                [[Page 1048]]
                coverings to incur, at a bare minimum, a two percent impact to their
                custom window covering revenue from the proposed rule. This implies
                that if custom products account for all of a firm's revenue, then the
                minimum impact of the proposed rule is two percent of revenue.
                 Generally, staff considers an impact to be potentially significant
                if it exceeds 1 percent of a firm's revenue. Because even the smallest
                estimate of cost is 2 percent of retail price, staff believes that the
                proposed rule could have a significant impact on manufacturers that
                receive a significant portion of their revenue from the sale of custom
                window coverings. Staff expects small importers to bear similar costs
                as small manufacturers, but staff is unclear whether the impact will be
                significant. The cost effect as a percent of revenue is dependent on
                the firm's custom window covering imports as a percent of total
                revenue. Any small importer with revenues of at least 50 percent
                related to custom window coverings affected by the proposed rule could
                be significantly impacted. Due to these potential impacts, CPSC staff
                expects the proposed rule to have a significant effect on a substantial
                number of small firms.
                G. Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the
                Proposed Rule
                 CPSC staff has not identified any other Federal rules that
                duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed rule.
                H. Alternatives for Reducing the Adverse Impact on Small Entities
                 Under section 603(c) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, an initial
                regulatory flexibility analysis should ``contain a description of any
                significant alternatives to the proposed rule which accomplish the
                stated objectives of the applicable statutes and which minimize any
                significant impact of the proposed rule on small entities.'' CPSC staff
                examined several alternatives to the proposed rule which could reduce
                the impact on small entities, as discussed in section V.C of this
                preamble.
                VII. Environmental Considerations
                 Generally, the Commission's regulations are considered to have
                little or no potential for affecting the human environment, and
                environmental assessments and impact statements are not usually
                required. See 16 CFR 1021.5(a). The proposed rule to require operating
                cords on custom window coverings to comply with the same requirements
                for operating cords on stock window coverings, as set forth in section
                4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018, is not expected to have an adverse impact on
                the environment and is considered to fall within the ``categorical
                exclusion'' for the purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act.
                16 CFR 1021.5(c).
                VIII. Paperwork Reduction Act
                 This proposed rule contains information collection requirements
                that are subject to public comment and review by the Office of
                Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995
                (PRA; 44 U.S.C. 3501-3521). Under the PRA, an agency must publish the
                following information:
                 A title for the collection of information;
                 a summary of the collection of information;
                 a brief description of the need for the information and
                the proposed use of the information;
                 a description of the likely respondents and proposed
                frequency of response to the collection of information;
                 an estimate of the burden that will result from the
                collection of information; and
                 notice that comments may be submitted to OMB.
                 44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(1)(D). In accordance with this requirement, the
                Commission provides the following information:
                 Title: Amendment to Third Party Testing of Children's Products,
                approved previously under OMB Control No. 3041-0159.
                 Summary, Need, and Use of Information: The proposed consumer
                product safety standard prescribes the safety requirements for
                operating cords on custom window coverings, and requires that these
                cords meet the same requirements for operating cords on stock window
                coverings, as set forth in the voluntary standard, section 4.3.1 of
                ANSI/WCMA-2018. These requirements are intended to reduce or eliminate
                an unreasonable risk of death or injury to children 8 years old and
                younger from strangulation.
                 Some custom window coverings are considered children's products. A
                ``children's product'' is a consumer product that is ``designed or
                intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger.'' 15 U.S.C.
                2052(a)(2). The Commission's regulation at 16 CFR part 1200 further
                interprets the term. Section 14 of the CPSA requires that children's
                products be tested by a third party conformity assessment body, and
                that the manufacturer of the product, including an importer, must issue
                a children's product certificate (CPC). Based on such third party
                testing, a manufacturer or importer must attest to compliance with the
                applicable consumer product safety rule by issuing the CPC. The
                requirement to test and certify children's products fall within the
                definition of ``collection of information,'' as defined in 44 U.S.C.
                3502(3).
                 The requirements for the CPCs are stated in Section 14 of the CPSA,
                and in the Commission's regulation at 16 CFR parts 1107 and 1110. Among
                other requirements, each certificate must identify the manufacturer or
                private labeler issuing the certificate and any third-party conformity
                assessment body, on whose testing the certificate depends, the date and
                place of manufacture, the date and place where the product was tested,
                each party's name, full mailing address, telephone number, and contact
                information for the individual responsible for maintaining records of
                test results. The certificates must be in English. The certificates
                must be furnished to each distributor or retailer of the product and to
                the CPSC, if requested.
                 The Commission already has an OMB control number, 3041-0159, for
                children's product testing and certification. This rule would amend
                this collection of information to add window coverings that are
                children's products.
                 Respondents and Frequency: Respondents include manufacturers and
                importers of custom window coverings that are children's products.
                Manufacturers and importers must comply with the information collection
                requirements when custom window coverings that are children's products
                are manufactured or imported.
                 Estimated Burden: CPSC has estimated the respondent burden in
                hours, and the estimated labor costs to the respondent.
                 Estimate of Respondent Burden: The hourly reporting burden imposed
                on firms that manufacture or import children's product custom window
                coverings includes the time and cost to maintain records related to
                third party testing, and to issue a CPC.
                [[Page 1049]]
                 Table 8--Estimated Annual Reporting Burden
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Length of
                 Burden type Total annual response Annual burden
                 reponses (hours) (hours)
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Third-party recordkeeping, certification.................. 60,800 1.0 60,800
                ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Three types of third-party testing of children's products are
                required: Certification testing, material change testing, and periodic
                testing. Requirements state that manufacturers conduct sufficient
                testing to ensure that they have a high degree of assurance that their
                children's products comply with all applicable children's product
                safety rules before such products are introduced into commerce. If a
                manufacturer conducts periodic testing, they are required to keep
                records that describe how the samples of periodic testing are selected.
                 CPSC estimates that 0.1 percent of all custom window coverings sold
                annually, 60,800 window coverings, are children's products and would be
                subject to third-party testing, for which 1.0 hours of recordkeeping
                and record maintenance will be required. Thus, the total hourly burden
                of the recordkeeping associated with certification is 60,800 hours (1.0
                x 60,800).
                 Labor Cost of Respondent Burden. According to the U.S. Bureau of
                Labor Statistics (BLS), Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, the
                total compensation cost per hour worked for all private industry
                workers was $36.64 (March 2021, https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/). Based on
                this analysis, CPSC staff estimates that labor cost of respondent
                burden would impose a cost to industry of approximately $2,227,712
                annually (60,800 hours x $36.64 per hour).
                 Cost to the Federal Government. The estimated annual cost of the
                information collection requirements to the federal government is
                approximately $4,172, which includes 60 staff hours to examine and
                evaluate the information as needed for Compliance activities. This is
                based on a GS-12, step 5 level salaried employee. The average hourly
                wage rate for a mid-level salaried GS-12 employee in the Washington, DC
                metropolitan area (effective as of January 2021) is $47.35 (GS-12, step
                5). This represents 68.1 percent of total compensation (U.S. Bureau of
                Labor Statistics, ``Employer Costs for Employee Compensation,'' March
                2021, percentage of wages and salaries for all civilian management,
                professional, and related employees: https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/.
                Adding an additional 31.9 percent for benefits brings average annual
                compensation for a mid-level salaried GS-12 employee to $69.53 per
                hour. Assuming that approximately 60 hours will be required annually,
                this results in an annual cost of $4,172 ($69.53 per hour x 60 hours =
                $4,171.80).
                 Comments. CPSC has submitted the information collection
                requirements of this rule to OMB for review in accordance with PRA
                requirements. 44 U.S.C. 3507(d). CPSC requests that interested parties
                submit comments regarding information collection to the Office of
                Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB (see the ADDRESSES section at
                the beginning of this NPR).
                 Pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A), the Commission invites
                comments on:
                 Whether the proposed collection of information is
                necessary for the proper performance of CPSC's functions, including
                whether the information will have practical utility;
                 the accuracy of CPSC's estimate of the burden of the
                proposed collection of information, including the validity of the
                methodology and assumptions used;
                 ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the
                information the Commission proposes to collect;
                 ways to reduce the burden of the collection of information
                on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques,
                when appropriate, and other forms of information technology;
                 the estimated burden hours associated with labels and hang
                tags, including any alternative estimates; and
                 the estimated respondent cost other than burden hour cost.
                IX. Preemption
                 Executive Order (E.O.) 12988, Civil Justice Reform (Feb. 5, 1996),
                directs agencies to specify the preemptive effect of a rule in the
                regulation. 61 FR 4729 (Feb. 7, 1996). The proposed regulation for
                operating cords on custom window coverings is issued under authority of
                the CPSA. 15 U.S.C. 2051-2089. Section 26 of the CPSA provides that
                ``whenever a consumer product safety standard under this Act is in
                effect and applies to a risk of injury associated with a consumer
                product, no State or political subdivision of a State shall have any
                authority either to establish or to continue in effect any provision of
                a safety standard or regulation which prescribes any requirements as to
                the performance, composition, contents, design, finish, construction,
                packaging or labeling of such product which are designed to deal with
                the same risk of injury associated with such consumer product, unless
                such requirements are identical to the requirements of the Federal
                Standard.'' 15 U.S.C. 2075(a).
                 The federal government, or a state or local government, may
                establish or continue in effect a non-identical requirement for its own
                use that is designed to protect against the same risk of injury as the
                CPSC standard if the federal, state, or local requirement provides a
                higher degree of protection than the CPSA requirement. Id. 2075(b). In
                addition, states or political subdivisions of a state may apply for an
                exemption from preemption regarding a consumer product safety standard,
                and the Commission may issue a rule granting the exemption if it finds
                that the state or local standard: (1) Provides a significantly higher
                degree of protection from the risk of injury or illness than the CPSA
                standard, and (2) does not unduly burden interstate commerce. Id.
                2075(c).
                 Thus, the proposed rule for operating cords on custom window
                coverings would, if finalized, preempt non-identical state or local
                requirements for operating cords on custom window coverings designed to
                protect against the same risk of injury and prescribing requirements
                regarding the performance of operating cords on custom window
                coverings.
                X. Testing, Certification, and Notice of Requirements
                 Section 14(a) of the CPSA includes requirements for certifying that
                children's products and non-children's products comply with applicable
                mandatory standards. 15 U.S.C. 2063(a). Section 14(a)(1) addresses
                required certifications for non-children's products, and sections
                14(a)(2) and (a)(3) address certification requirements specific to
                children's products.
                 A ``children's product'' is a consumer product that is ``designed
                or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger.'' Id.
                2052(a)(2). The following factors are relevant when determining whether
                a product is a children's product:
                [[Page 1050]]
                 Manufacturer statements about the intended use of the
                product, including a label on the product if such statement is
                reasonable;
                 whether the product is represented in its packaging,
                display, promotion, or advertising as appropriate for use by children
                12 years of age or younger;
                 whether the product is commonly recognized by consumers as
                being intended for use by a child 12 years of age or younger; and
                 the Age Determination Guidelines issued by CPSC staff in
                September 2002, and any successor to such guidelines.
                 Id. ``For use'' by children 12 years and younger generally means
                that children will interact physically with the product based on
                reasonably foreseeable use. 16 CFR 1200.2(a)(2). Children's products
                may be decorated or embellished with a childish theme, be sized for
                children, or be marketed to appeal primarily to children. Id. Sec.
                1200.2(d)(1).
                 CPSC is aware that some window coverings are specifically designed
                for children, and based on the factors listed above, fall within the
                definition of a ``children's product.'' If the Commission issues a
                final rule for operating cords on custom window coverings, such a rule
                would require custom window coverings that are children's products to
                meet the third-party testing and certification requirements in section
                14(a) of the CPSA. The Commission's requirements for certificates of
                compliance are codified at 16 CFR part 1110.
                 Non-Children's Products. Section 14(a)(1) of the CPSA requires
                every manufacturer (which includes importers \41\) of a non-children's
                product that is subject to a consumer product safety rule under the
                CPSA or a similar rule, ban, standard, or regulation under any other
                law enforced by the Commission to certify that the product complies
                with all applicable CSPSC-enforced requirements. 15 U.S.C. 2063(a)(1).
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \41\ The CPSA defines a ``manufacturer'' as ``any person who
                manufactures or imports a consumer product.'' 15 U.S.C. 2052(a)(11).
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Children's Products. Section 14(a)(2) of the CPSA requires the
                manufacturer or private labeler of a children's product that is subject
                to a children's product safety rule to certify that, based on a third-
                party conformity assessment body's testing, the product complies with
                the applicable children's product safety rule. Id. 2063(a)(2). Section
                14(a) also requires the Commission to publish a notice of requirements
                (NOR) for a third-party conformity assessment body (i.e., testing
                laboratory) to obtain accreditation to assess conformity with a
                children's product safety rule. Id. 2063(a)(3)(A). Because some custom
                window coverings are children's products, the proposed rule is a
                children's product safety rule, as applied to those products.
                Accordingly, if the Commission issues a final rule, it must also issue
                an NOR.
                 The Commission published a final rule, codified at 16 CFR part
                1112, entitled Requirements Pertaining to Third Party Conformity
                Assessment Bodies, which established requirements and criteria
                concerning testing laboratories. 78 FR 15836 (Mar. 12, 2013). Part 1112
                includes procedures for CPSC to accept a testing laboratory's
                accreditation and lists the children's product safety rules for which
                CPSC has published NORs. When CPSC issues a new NOR, it must amend part
                1112 to include that NOR. Accordingly, as part of this NPR for
                operating cords on custom window coverings, the Commission proposes to
                amend part 1112 to add the ``Safety Standard for Operating Cords on
                Custom Window Coverings'' to the list of children's product safety
                rules for which CPSC has issued an NOR.
                 Testing laboratories that apply for CPSC acceptance to test custom
                window coverings that are children's products for compliance with the
                new rule would have to meet the requirements in part 1112. When a
                laboratory meets the requirements of a CPSC-accepted third party
                conformity assessment body, the laboratory can apply to CPSC to include
                16 CFR part 1260, Safety Standard for Operating Cords on Custom Window
                Coverings, in the laboratory's scope of accreditation of CPSC safety
                rules listed on the CPSC website at: www.cpsc.gov/labsearch.
                XI. Effective Date
                 The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) generally requires that the
                effective date of a rule be at least 30 days after publication of a
                final rule. 5 U.S.C. 553(d). Section 9(g)(1) of the CPSA states that a
                consumer product safety rule shall specify the date such rule is to
                take effect, and that the effective date must be at least 30 days after
                promulgation, but cannot exceed 180 days from the date a rule is
                promulgated, unless the Commission finds, for good cause shown, that a
                later effective date is in the public interest and publishes its
                reasons for such finding. If finalized, the Commission proposes an
                effective date of 180 days after publication of the final rule in the
                Federal Register.
                XII. Incorporation by Reference
                 The Commission proposes to incorporate by reference certain
                provisions of ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2018, American National Standard for
                Safety of Corded Window Covering Products. The Office of the Federal
                Register (OFR) has regulations concerning incorporation by reference. 1
                CFR part 51. The OFR revised these regulations to require that, for a
                proposed rule, agencies must discuss in the preamble of the NPR ways
                that the materials the agency proposes to incorporate by reference are
                reasonably available to interested persons or how the agency worked to
                make the materials reasonably available. In addition, the preamble of
                the proposed rule must summarize the material. 1 CFR 51.5(a).
                 In accordance with the OFR's requirements, sections I.B.2.(d), II,
                IV and Table 3 of this preamble summarize the provisions of ANSI/WCMA
                A100.1-2018 that the Commission proposes to incorporate by reference.
                ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2018 is copyrighted. You may view a read-only copy of
                ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2018 free of charge at: https://wcmanet.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/WCMA-A100-2018_v2_websitePDF.pdf.
                Alternatively, interested parties may inspect a copy of the standard
                free of charge by contacting Alberta E. Mills, Division of the
                Secretariat, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East West
                Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone: 301-504-7479; email: cpsc.gov">[email protected]cpsc.gov. To download or print the standard, interested persons may
                purchase a copy of ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2018 from WCMA, through its website
                (http://wcmanet.com), or contacting the Window Covering Manufacturers
                Association, Inc., 355 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, 10017;
                telephone: 212.297.2122.
                XIII. Proposed Findings
                 The CPSA requires the Commission to make certain findings when
                issuing a consumer product safety standard. Specifically, the CPSA
                requires the Commission to consider and make findings about the
                following:
                 The degree and nature of the risk of injury the rule is
                designed to eliminate or reduce;
                 the approximate number of consumer products subject to the
                rule;
                 the need of the public for the products subject to the
                rule and the probable effect the rule will have on the cost,
                availability, and utility of such products;
                 any means to achieve the objective of the rule while
                minimizing adverse
                [[Page 1051]]
                effects on competition, manufacturing, and commercial practices;
                 that the rule, including the effective date, is reasonably
                necessary to eliminate or reduce an unreasonable risk of injury
                associated with the product;
                 that issuing the rule is in the public interest;
                 if a voluntary standard addressing the risk of injury has
                been adopted and implemented, that either compliance with the voluntary
                standard is not likely to result in the elimination or adequate
                reduction of the risk or injury, or it is unlikely to be substantial
                compliance with the voluntary standard;
                 that the benefits expected from the rule bear a reasonable
                relationship to its costs; and
                 that the rule imposes the least burdensome requirement
                that prevents or adequately reduces the risk of injury.
                 15 U.S.C. 2058(f)(1), (f)(3). At the NPR stage, the Commission is
                making these findings on a preliminary basis to allow the public to
                comment on the findings.
                A. Degree and Nature of the Risk of Injury
                 Operating cords on custom window coverings present a strangulation
                hazard, including death and serious injury, to children 8 years old and
                younger. If children can access a window covering cord, children can
                wrap the cord around their neck, or insert their head into a loop
                formed by the cord and strangle. Strangulation can lead to serious
                injuries with permanent debilitating outcomes or death. If sustained
                lateral pressure occurs at a level resulting in vascular occlusion,
                strangulation can occur when a child's head or neck becomes entangled
                in any position, even in situations where the child's body is fully or
                partially supported.
                 Strangulation deaths and injuries on window covering cords are a
                ``hidden hazard'' because consumers do not understand or appreciate the
                hazard, or how quickly and silently strangulation occurs. Because even
                young children are left unsupervised for a few minutes or more in a
                room that is considered safe, such as a bedroom or family room, adult
                supervision is unlikely to be effective to eliminate or reduce the
                hazard. Children can wrap the cord around their necks, insert their
                heads into a cord loop and get injured, or die silently in a few
                minutes in any room, with or without supervision.
                 Additionally, safety devices such as cord cleats and tension
                devices are unlikely to be effective because cord cleats need to be
                attached on the wall and caregivers must wrap the cord around the cleat
                each and every time the window covering is raised or lowered. As
                incident data show, children can still access and become entangled in
                cords by climbing on furniture. Tension devices also need to be
                attached on the wall or windowsill, which may not occur due to
                increased ``cost'' of compliance and unwillingness to create holes on
                the wall (which may not be permitted in rental homes); depending on how
                taut the cord loop is, it can still allow a child's head to enter the
                opening as observed in the incident data.
                 A user research study found a lack of awareness on cord
                entanglement among caregivers, lack of awareness of the speed and
                mechanism of the injury; difficulty using and installing safety devices
                as primary reasons for not using them; and inability to recognize the
                purpose of the safety devices provided with window coverings. Warning
                labels are not likely to be effective because research demonstrates
                that consumers are less likely to look for and read safety information
                about the products that they use frequently and are familiar with. Most
                of the incident units had the permanent warning label on the product.
                Even well-designed warning labels will have limited effectiveness in
                communicating the hazard on this type of product.
                 Custom window covering cords have a long product life, and it may
                take consumers several decades to replace these products. Accordingly,
                every custom product sold with accessible operating cord presents a
                ``hidden hazard'' to young children and can remain a hazard in the
                household for 20 years. Some consumers may believe that because they
                either do not have young children living with them or visiting them,
                inaccessible operating cords on window coverings are not a safety
                hazard. However, window coverings last a long time, and when homes are
                sold or new renters move in, the existing window coverings, if they are
                functional, usually remain installed and could be hazardous to new
                occupants with young children.
                 On the other hand, window coverings that comply with the operating
                cord requirements for stock window covering requirements in section
                4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 adequately address the strangulation hazard, by
                not allowing hazardous cords on the product by design, and therefore do
                not rely on consumer action. One hundred percent of the operating cord
                incidents involving custom window coverings would have been prevented
                if the requirements in section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018 were in effect
                and covered the incident products.
                 Based on reviews of CPSC databases, we found that a total of 194
                reported fatal and nonfatal strangulations on window coverings occurred
                among children eight years and younger, from January 2009 through
                December 2020. Nearly 46 percent were fatal incident reports (89 of
                194), while the remaining were near-miss nonfatal incidents. Sixteen of
                the 194 victims required hospitalization, and six survived a hypoxic-
                ischemic episode or were pulseless and in full cardiac arrest when
                found, suffered severe neurological sequalae, ranging from loss of
                memory to a long-term or permanent vegetative state requiring
                tracheotomy and gastrointestinal tube feeding. One victim who remained
                hospitalized for 72 days was released from the hospital with 75 percent
                permanent brain damage and is confined to a bed.
                 Based on CPSC's Injury Cost Model, we estimated that approximately
                185 medically treated nonfatal injuries have occurred annually from
                2009 through 2020 involving children eight years and younger. We also
                estimated that based on a review of National Center for Health
                Statistics (NCHS) and a separate study of child strangulations, a
                minimum of nine fatal strangulations related to window covering cords
                occurred per year in the United States among children under five years
                old from 2009-2019.
                B. Number of Consumer Products Subject to the Proposed Rule
                 We estimate that approximately 512 million custom window coverings
                are in use in the United States. Only corded custom window coverings
                would be subject to the rule, which we estimate to be around 65 percent
                of custom window coverings. This brings the total number of window
                coverings that are subject to the rule to approximately 39 million
                units sold per year.
                C. The Public Need for Custom Window Coverings and the Effects of the
                Proposed Rule on Their Utility, Cost, and Availability
                 Consumers commonly use window coverings in their homes to control
                light coming in through windows and for decoration. ANSI/WCMA-2018
                segments the market between stock and custom window coverings. Stock
                and custom window coverings serve the same purpose, and window covering
                cords on stock and custom products present the same hazards to
                children. However, custom window coverings allow consumers to choose a
                wider variety of specific material, color,
                [[Page 1052]]
                operating systems, or sizes, than stock products. Because ANSI/WCMA-
                2018 effectively addresses operating cords on stock window coverings,
                and the hazards on custom products are the same, the proposed rule
                requires custom window coverings to meet the same performance
                requirements for operating cords as the current operating cord
                requirements for stock window coverings in ANSI/WCMA-2018.
                 The Commission does not expect the proposed rule to have a
                substantial effect on the utility or availability of custom window
                coverings, and the impact on cost depends on the product type. Custom
                window coverings that already meet the voluntary standard would
                continue to serve the purpose of covering windows in consumers' homes.
                A possible negative effect could occur with regard to the utility of
                custom window coverings for those consumers with accessibility issues,
                or window coverings in hard-to-reach locations, because consumers may
                need to use a tool to operate the window covering. However, this loss
                of utility would be mitigated by the availability of existing tools
                that are already available on the market, and by the ubiquity of
                remote-controlled operating systems.
                 Retail prices of custom window coverings vary substantially. The
                least expensive units for an average size window retail for less than
                $40, while some more expensive units may retail for several thousand
                dollars. The lowest cost to comply with the proposed rule determine by
                CPSC staff was about $2.15 per unit. This per unit cost was for
                potential modifications to comply with the proposed rule, in cases
                where CPSC staff was able to estimate the potential cost. Custom window
                covering prices may increase to reflect the added cost of modifying or
                redesigning products to comply with the proposed rule. If the costs
                associated with redesigning or modifying a custom window covering to
                comply with the standard results in the manufacturer discontinuing that
                model, there would be some loss in availability of that type.
                 Prices for custom window coverings are, on average, higher than
                those for stock products, which are already required to comply with
                section 4.3.1 of ANSI/WCMA-2018. Although prices of stock window
                coverings have increased since the revised voluntary standard went into
                effect in 2018, sales of stock products remain consistent.\42\ For
                custom products that already have higher prices, consumers may be
                willing to pay more for a safer window covering without affecting
                sales, similar to stock window coverings.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \42\ Staff does not have information on detailed sales data to
                determine the impact of the ANSI/WCMA-2018 on stock products. CPSC
                contractor (D+R) aimed to identify the share of custom versus stock
                sales over time to understand how the window covering market has
                changed in response to the ANSI/WCMA-2018 as the standard primarily
                impacts stock products. Researchers considered that metal/vinyl
                blinds, roller shades, vertical blinds, and wood/faux wood blinds
                are the categories that should be most affected by the standard,
                given their large share in stock product sales. They assumed that if
                these categories had an increase in custom sales after 2018, it
                would indicate that the cordless operation could be one of the
                factors driving consumers towards purchasing custom products with
                corded operation, despite the higher price points. However,
                researchers' projections indicate that there is not a consistent
                trend towards greater custom sales, and in the case of metal/vinyl
                blinds, there is an increasing share of stock sales over time.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                D. Other Means To Achieve the Objective of the Proposed Rule, While
                Minimizing Adverse Effects on Competition and Manufacturing
                 The Commission considered alternatives to achieving the objective
                of the rule of reducing unreasonable risks of injury and death
                associated with operating cords on custom window coverings. For
                example, the Commission considered relying on compliance with the
                voluntary standard, and education campaigns, rather than issuing a
                mandatory rule for operating cords on custom window coverings. Because
                this is the approach CPSC has relied on, to date, this alternative
                would have minimal costs; however, it is unlikely to further reduce the
                risk of injury from operating cords on custom window coverings.
                 Similarly, the Commission also considered narrowing the scope of
                the rule to address only the hazards associated with operating cords on
                custom vertical blinds, curtains, and drapes, because cords are not
                critical to the operation of these products. Narrowing the proposed
                rule to these three product types would lessen the cost impact and make
                it unlikely that any particular product type and/or size would be
                eliminated, and costs would be near $0 because using plastic rods for
                operation is very similar to cords in cost. However, only 2 of the 35
                custom product incidents (both are fatalities) were associated with
                vertical blinds, and there were no curtain or drape incidents where the
                stock/custom classification could be determined. This option would not
                result in an effective reduction in injuries and deaths.
                 Another alternative the Commission considered was providing a
                longer effective date. This may reduce the costs of the rule by
                spreading costs over a longer period, but it would also delay the
                benefits of the rule, in the form of reduced deaths and injuries.
                E. Unreasonable Risk
                 Based on CPSC's Injury Cost Model, about 185 medically treated
                nonfatal injuries have occurred annually from 2009 through 2020,
                involving children eight years and younger. Based on a review of
                National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and a separate study of
                child strangulations, a minimum of nine fatal strangulations related to
                window covering cords occurred per year in the United States among
                children under five years old from 2009-2019. Based on reviews of CPSC
                databases, we found that a total of 194 reported fatal and nonfatal
                strangulations on window coverings occurred among children eight years
                and younger, from January 2009 through December 2020. Nearly 46 percent
                were fatal incident reports (89 of 194), while the remaining were near-
                miss nonfatal incidents.
                 The Commission estimates that the rule would result in aggregate
                benefits of about $49.5 million annually. Of the potential
                modifications for which staff was able to estimate the potential cost,
                the lowest costs were about $2.15 per unit. Effective performance
                requirements for operating cords on window coverings are well known and
                already utilized for lower-priced stock window coverings. Technologies
                to address hazardous window covering cords are also known and utilized
                on stock products. Moreover, the proposed rule is unlikely to have a
                large impact on the utility and availability of custom window
                coverings, but may have an impact on cost, depending on the design of
                the window covering.
                 The determination of whether a consumer product safety rule is
                reasonably necessary to reduce an unreasonable risk of injury involves
                balancing the degree and nature of the risk of injury addressed by the
                rule against the probable effect of the rule on the utility, cost, or
                availability of the product. The Commission does not expect the
                proposed rule to have a substantial effect on the utility or
                availability of custom window coverings. The rule may impact the cost
                of custom window coverings, but consumers already pay more for custom
                window coverings, and are likely willing to pay more for safer
                products.
                 Weighing the possibility of increased costs for custom window
                coverings with the continuing deaths and injuries to young children,
                the Commission concludes preliminarily that custom window coverings
                with hazardous operating cords pose an unreasonable risk of injury and
                death and finds that the proposed rule is reasonably
                [[Page 1053]]
                necessary to reduce that unreasonable risk of injury and death.
                 The proposed rule would apply the same requirements to custom
                window coverings that already apply to stock products. The requirements
                to address the hazard and the available technologies are widely known
                and already utilized on the least expensive products. Despite this
                fact, custom products remain corded, and deaths and injuries to young
                children on window covering cords continues. As reviewed in XIII.A,
                consumers do not appreciate the risk of strangulation, or how quickly
                deaths and injuries occur, even when children are supervised, and
                custom products can remain in consumer's homes for decades. Due to the
                ongoing fatal and nonfatal incidents associated with window covering
                cords, high severity of the outcomes (death and disability to
                children), proven technical feasibility of cordless products, the
                implementation of stronger operating cord requirements for stock window
                coverings already on the market, and the ineffectiveness of warnings
                and safety devices for this class of products, the Commission proposes
                to regulate operating cords on custom window coverings.
                F. Public Interest
                 This proposed rule is intended to address an unreasonable risk of
                injury and death posed by hazardous operating cords on custom window
                coverings. The Commission believes that adherence to the requirements
                of the proposed rule will significantly reduce or eliminate a hidden
                hazard, strangulation deaths and injuries to children 8 years old and
                younger, in the future; thus, the rule is in the public interest.
                G. Voluntary Standards
                 The Commission is aware of one national voluntary standard, ANSI/
                WCMA-2018, and European, Australian, and Canadian standards. Among
                these, the Commission considers the Canadian standard to be the most
                stringent because it applies to all window coverings. ANSI/WCMA-2018
                contains adequate performance requirements to address the risk of
                strangulation on for inner cords for both stock and custom window
                coverings and contains adequate requirements to address the risk of
                injury on operating cords for stock products. The Commission also
                believes that custom window coverings substantially comply with the
                voluntary standard. However, the Commission does not consider the
                operating cord requirements for custom window coverings in the standard
                adequate to address the risk of injury, because the voluntary standard
                still allows accessible and hazardous operating cords to be present on
                custom products.
                H. Relationship of Benefits to Costs
                 The aggregate benefits of the rule are estimated to be about $49.5
                million annually; and the lowest cost of the rule is estimated to be
                about $156.5 million annually. Some recent studies have suggested that
                the VSL for children could be higher than that for adults. In other
                words, consumers might be willing to pay more to reduce the risk of
                premature death of children than to reduce the risk of premature death
                of adults. A review of the literature conducted for the CPSC suggested
                that the VSL for children could exceed that of adults by a factor of
                1.2 to 3, with a midpoint of around 2 (IEc, 2018). This analysis
                included other uncertainties, such as cost estimate calculations, the
                number of corded window coverings in use, and the expected product life
                for certain blind types. The cost studies from which staff derived all
                of the cost estimates could be outdated, given the first study was
                completed in 2016, about 2 years before WCMA revised the voluntary
                standard for stock products. Economies of scale could have reduced
                costs related to cordless components since the completion of the first
                cost study in 2016. Additionally, the assumption used to create the
                estimate of corded products in the market is based on interviews with
                manufacturers and retailers, some of whom gave conflicting
                accounts.\43\ Finally, the estimated product life used in the analysis
                for vinyl and metal horizontal blinds was significantly shorter than
                for the other products. This analysis was based on work completed by
                D+R for the Department of Energy (2013). However, this estimate may be
                skewed because of the dominance of stock window coverings in this
                category. Custom window coverings have a longer product life. For
                example, WCMA stated in their response to the ANPR that the expected
                product life for a custom window covering is 10 years and is 3-5 years
                for a stock window covering. CPSC staff expects a higher per-unit
                benefit for custom products because of the longer expected product
                life.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 \43\ For example, one small retailer CPSC staff contacted
                provided an account that stated demand and sales of corded products
                have increased in the past two years, which is in conflict with
                multiple accounts from manufacturers and other larger retailers.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 In this case, the cost of certain custom window coverings may
                increase if redesigned to meet the requirements in the proposed rule.
                However, effective performance requirements for operating cords on
                window coverings are well known and already utilized for lower-priced
                stock window coverings. Moreover, technologies to address hazardous
                window covering cords are also known and utilized on stock products.
                Finally, consumers are likely willing to pay more for a custom window
                covering that eliminates the strangulation risk to children.
                 Based on this analysis, the Commission preliminarily finds that the
                benefits expected from the rule bear a reasonable relationship to the
                anticipated costs of the rule.
                I. Least Burdensome Requirement That Would Adequately Reduce the Risk
                of Injury
                 The Commission considered less-burdensome alternatives to the
                proposed rule, detailed in section V.C of this preamble, but
                preliminarily concludes that none of these alternatives would
                adequately reduce the risk of injury.
                 The Commission considered relying on voluntary recalls, compliance
                with the voluntary standard, and education campaigns, rather than
                issuing a mandatory standard. These alternatives would have minimal
                costs but would be unlikely to reduce the risk of injury from custom
                window coverings that contain hazardous cords.
                 The Commission considered issuing a standard that applies only to a
                certain type of window covering such as vertical blinds. This would
                impose lower costs on manufacturers but is unlikely to adequately
                reduce the risk of injury because it would only address incidents
                associated with those types. Based on the custom product incident data,
                only 5.7 percent of the incidents involved vertical blinds and 22.7
                percent involved faux wood/wood blinds.
                 The Commission considered providing a longer effective date for the
                final rule. This option may reduce the costs of the rule by spreading
                costs over a longer period, but it would also delay the benefits of the
                rule, in the form of reducing the effectiveness of the final rule
                during the period of delay.
                XIV. Request for Comments
                 The Commission invites interested persons to submit their comments
                to the Commission on any aspect of the proposed rule. Additionally, the
                Commission seeks comment on the following topics:
                 A. The scope of the standard for custom window coverings,
                whether certain products should be included or excluded;
                [[Page 1054]]
                 B. Whether the ANSI/WCMA-2018 standard is adequate to address
                the strangulation risk associated with custom window coverings;
                 C. Whether the rigid cord shroud requirements are adequate;
                 D. Whether cord or bead chain restraining devices should be
                allowed for custom products that contains continuous loop operating
                system;
                 E. Whether single retractable cord lift systems should be
                allowed for custom products and whether maximum exposed cord length
                and a minimum pull force for a single retractable cord lift system
                can address the strangulation hazard;
                 F. The effect on component costs for custom products based on
                the requirement for stock products to comply with the voluntary
                standard since 2018;
                 G. Whether button or coin cell battery enclosures in a remote
                control to operate a custom window covering should be included in
                the rulemaking, related to the hazards of swallowing small
                batteries;
                 H. Whether to include a warning label that alerts consumers that
                if a hazardous cord becomes present due to broken window covering,
                they should remove the product from use.
                 I. The appropriate effective date for the final rule.
                 Submit comments as provided in the instructions in the ADDRESSES
                section at the beginning of this notice.
                XV. Promulgation of a Final Rule
                 Section 9(d)(1) of the CPSA requires the Commission to promulgate a
                final consumer product safety rule within 60 days of publishing a
                proposed rule. 15 U.S.C. 2058(d)(1). Otherwise, the Commission must
                withdraw the proposed rule if it determines that the rule is not
                reasonably necessary to eliminate or reduce an unreasonable risk of
                injury associated with the product or is not in the public interest.
                Id. However, the Commission can extend the 60-day period, for good
                cause shown, if it publishes the reasons for doing so in the Federal
                Register. Id.
                 The Commission finds that there is good cause to extend the 60-day
                period for this rulemaking. Under both the Administrative Procedure Act
                and the CPSA, the Commission must provide an opportunity for interested
                parties to submit written comments on a proposed rule. 5 U.S.C. 553; 15
                U.S.C. 2058(d)(2). The Commission typically provides 75 days for
                interested parties to submit written comments. In this case, a shorter
                comment period may limit the quality and utility of information CPSC
                receives in comments, particularly for areas where it seeks data and
                other detailed information that may take time for commenters to
                compile. Additionally, the CPSA requires the Commission to provide
                interested parties with an opportunity to make oral presentations of
                data, views, or arguments. 15 U.S.C. 2058. This requires time for the
                Commission to arrange a public meeting for this purpose and provide
                notice to interested parties in advance of that meeting. After
                receiving written and oral comments, CPSC staff must have time to
                review and evaluate those comments.
                 These factors make it impractical for the Commission to issue a
                final rule within 60 days of this proposed rule. Moreover, issuing a
                final rule within 60 days of the NPR may limit commenters' ability to
                provide useful input on the rule, and CPSC's ability to evaluate and
                take that information into consideration in developing a final rule.
                Accordingly, the Commission finds that there is good cause to extend
                the 60-day period.
                List of Subjects
                16 CFR Part 1112
                 Administrative practice and procedure, Audit, Consumer protection,
                Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Third-party conformity
                assessment body.
                16 CFR Part 1260
                 Consumer protection, Imports, Incorporation by reference,
                Administrative practice and procedure, Window Coverings, Cords, Infants
                and children.
                 For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Commission proposes
                to amend subchapter B of title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations as
                follows:
                PART 1112--REQUIREMENTS PERTAINING TO THIRD PARTY CONFORMITY
                ASSESSMENT BODIES
                0
                1. The authority citation for part 1112 continues to read as follows:
                 Authority: Pub. L. 110-314, section 3, 122 Stat. 3016, 3017
                (2008); 15 U.S.C. 2063.
                0
                2. Amend Sec. 1112.15 by adding paragraph (b)(53) to read as follows:
                Sec. 1112.15 When can a third party conformity assessment body apply
                for CPSC acceptance for a particular CPSC rule or test method?
                * * * * *
                 (b) * * *
                 (53) 16 CFR part 1260, Safety Standard for Operating Cords on
                Custom Window Coverings.
                * * * * *
                0
                3. Add part 1260 to read as follows:
                PART 1260--SAFETY STANDARD FOR OPERATING CORDS ON CUSTOM WINDOW
                COVERINGS
                Sec.
                1260.1 Scope and definitions.
                1260.2 Requirements.
                1260.3 Prohibited stockpiling.
                1260.4 Findings.
                1260.5 Standards Incorporated by Reference.
                 Authority: 15 U.S.C. 2056, 15 U.S.C. 2058, and 5 U.S.C. 553.
                Sec. 1260.1 Scope and definitions.
                 (a) This part establishes a consumer product safety standard for
                operating cords on custom window coverings.
                 (b) This consumer product safety standard relies on the following
                definitions in section 3 of ANSI/WCMA A100.1--2018 (incorporated by
                reference, see Sec. 1260.5):
                 (1) Custom window covering (Custom blinds, shades, and shadings) as
                defined in section 3, definition 5.01, of ANSI/WCMA A100.1--2018.
                 (2) Stock window covering (Stock blinds, shades, and shadings) as
                defined in section 3, definition 5.02, of ANSI/WCMA A100.1--2018.
                 (3) Operating cord as defined in section 3, definition 2.19, of
                ANSI/WCMA A100.1--2018.
                 (4) Cord shroud as defined in section 3, definition 2.09, of ANSI/
                WCMA A100.1--2018.
                 (c) Rigid Cord Shroud is a cord shroud that is constructed of
                inflexible material to prevent a child from accessing a window covering
                cord.
                Sec. 1260.2 Requirements.
                 (a) Requirements for operating cords. Each operating cord on a
                custom window covering shall comply with section 4.3.1, instead of
                section 4.3.2, of ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2018 (incorporated by reference, see
                Sec. 1260.5).
                 (b) Requirements for rigid cord shrouds. If a custom window
                covering complies with paragraph (a) of this section by using a rigid
                cord shroud to make an operating cord inaccessible, the rigid cord
                shroud shall not have an accessible cord when tested for cord
                accessibility using the test methods defined in paragraphs (c) and (d).
                 (c) Test methods for rigid cord shrouds: Center load test. (1)
                Support each end of the rigid cord shroud, but do not restrict the
                rotation along the axial direction. Supports must be within 0.25 inches
                from the ends of the shroud as shown in Figure 1.
                BILLING CODE 6355-01-P
                [[Page 1055]]
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP07JA22.028
                 (2) Apply a 5-pound force at the center of the rigid cord shroud
                for at least 5 seconds as shown in Figure 2.
                 (3) Measure the maximum deflection of the shroud, while the 5-pound
                force is applied.
                 (4) For rigid cord shrouds that are cpsc.gov">[email protected]cpsc.gov, and is available from the sources
                listed below. You may also inspect a copy at the National Archives and
                Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of
                this material at NARA, email [email protected], or go to:
                www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.
                [[Page 1059]]
                 (b) Window Covering Manufacturers Association, Inc., 355 Lexington
                Avenue, New York, New York, 10017, telephone: 212.297.2122, https://wcmanet.com.
                 (1) ANSI/WCMA A100.1--2018, American National Standard for Safety
                of Corded Window Covering Products, approved January 8, 2018; IBR
                approved for Sec. Sec. 1260.1 and 1260.2.
                 (i) Read-only copy. https://www.wcmanet.com/pdf/WCMA-A100.1-2018_view-only_v2.pdf.
                 (ii) Purchase. https://webstore.ansi.org/Standards/WCMA/ANSIWCMAA1002018.
                 (2) [Reserved]
                Alberta E. Mills,
                Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission.
                [FR Doc. 2021-27896 Filed 1-6-22; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 6355-01-P
                

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