The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently published details of a provisional settlement with Virginia-based Sunsations, Inc., which has agreed to pay $60,000 in civil penalties for failing to report drawstrings in children’s sweatshirts. The agency first issued guidance in 1996 warning that hood or neck drawstrings posed a strangulation hazard and recommending that “no children’s upper outerwear sizes 2T to 12 be manufactured or sold to consumers with hood and neck drawstrings.”
In 1997, this standard was backed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and subsequently reiterated by the CSPC Office of Compliance’s director, who in 2006 issued a letter urging manufacturers, importers and retailers to conform to ASTM F1816-97. “The letter states that Staff considers children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck area to be defective and to present a substantial risk of injury to young children under Federal Hazardous Substances Act (‘FHSA’) section 15(c), 15 U.S.C. 1274(c),” recounts the September 8, 2011, Federal Register notice. “The letter also sets forth the reporting requirements of CPSA section 15(b), 15 U.S.C. 2064(b).”
According to CSPC, Sunsations sold sweatshirts that did not comply with CSPC guidelines or ASTM F1816-97 and “failed to comport with the Staff’s May 2006 defect notice.” CPSC also alleged that the company “had presumed and actual knowledge that the Sweatshirts distributed in commerce posed a strangulation hazard and presented a substantial risk of injury to children,” and that the company failed to inform the commission as required by federal law.
While agreeing to the provisional settlement, Sunsations “denies allegations that it knowingly violated the law”; it will conduct a comprehensive review of its inventory, “irrespective of whether such garments are sized, marketed, or otherwise intended for use by children.” The commission has also issued a June 28, 2011, final rule designating “children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 12 with neck or hood drawstrings and children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 16 with certain waist or bottom drawstrings, as substantial product hazards.” See CPSC Press Release, September 1, 2011.