Health Canada

Health Canada

June 17, 2010 07:37 ET

Health Canada Calls for Stronger Safety Standards for Window Coverings

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 17, 2010) - Due to a number of strangulation deaths and significant injuries in children worldwide, Health Canada, the U.S. Consumer Product Commission (CPSC), and DG Sanco (the European Commission's health and consumer directorate general) have joined together to call for stronger international standards for window coverings.

The three safety agencies are urging standards development organizations and manufacturers to create comprehensive worldwide safety standards to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by corded window coverings. This is the first time the three safety agencies, representing consumers in 29 countries, have united in their demand for stronger safety standards on a specific product.

"The health and safety of our children is of paramount importance," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. "Canada's requirements for corded window coverings are already among the strictest in the world. However, I believe changes need to be made to further protect children from the dangers posed by these products."

It is anticipated that this internationally coordinated effort will lead to cost-effective product development, testing and manufacturing processes that put children's safety first. More stringent worldwide standards will also support Canada's own regulatory requirements. 

Canada's current Corded Window Covering Regulations place restrictions on the formation of cord loops and require warning labels. However, they do not address certain hazards posed by Roman shades and roll-up blinds. Health Canada is now taking steps to further strengthen these regulations and has recently completed a consultation process to solicit stakeholder input on proposed changes. 

Health Canada has received reports of 28 strangulation deaths and 23 near-strangulations due to corded window coverings since 1986. In the United States, CPSC staff is aware of 120 fatalities and 113 non-fatal incidents related to corded window coverings since 1999. In seven member states of Europe, 90 children were reported to have visited hospital emergency departments for injuries caused by corded window coverings in 2002. More recently, at least six children in Europe have died from corded window coverings since 2008.

Health Canada issued advisories on the strangulation hazards associated with corded window coverings in November 2008 and again in December 2009. Twelve voluntary recalls on roman shades and roll-up blinds have been conducted since 2009 and have involved millions of products.

The Government recently re-introduced the proposed Canada Consumer Product Safety Act as Bill C-36 in the House of Commons. If this bill is passed, it would prohibit the manufacture, importation, advertisement and sale of products, including corded window coverings, that pose an unreasonable danger to health or safety.

Health Canada continues to urge parents and caregivers to be vigilant concerning the strangulation hazards posed by these products and to make sure the cords on their window coverings are not accessible.

For more information on corded window coverings, please visit Health Canada's Blind and Curtain Cords Information Page ( http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/house-domes/decor/blinds-toles-eng.php ).

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Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Health Canada
    613-957-2983
    or
    Josee Bellemare
    Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
    Federal Minister of Health
    613-957-0200
    or
    Public Enquiries:
    613-957-2991
    1-866-225-0709