Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 151, Number 24: Corded Window Coverings Regulations
June 17, 2017
Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
Department of Health
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Issues: Children in Canada continue to be at risk of strangulation from corded window coverings (CWCs). The average fatality rate is slightly more than one child death per year. Actions taken to help reduce the risk of strangulation by CWCs, including outreach and education activities, voluntary measures by industry, the development of a Canadian national standard (national standard), and regulations enacted in 2009 that incorporate the national standard, have not significantly reduced the fatality rate.
In 2014, Health Canada completed a risk assessment on CWCs to assess the strangulation hazard, including the effectiveness of the current Corded Window Covering Products Regulations (CWCPR) to address the hazard. The risk assessment found that CWCs with accessible cords continue to present an unreasonable risk of injury or death to young children, even when they are compliant with the CWCPR or the equivalent American voluntary standard.
Risk management efforts to date have proven to be limited in their effectiveness, and it is unlikely that necessary improvements to eliminate the strangulation risk will be made to the national standard in the foreseeable future. The Government is therefore proposing updated regulatory requirements for these products to provide stronger protection for children in Canada.
Description: The proposed Corded Window Coverings Regulations (hereafter “the proposed Regulations”), made under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), would restrict the length of reachable cords and the size of loops that can be created by a cord in order to help eliminate the risk of strangulation. The proposed Regulations would repeal and replace the current CWCPR.
Cost-benefit statement: There is at present no reliable dataset from which to infer the cost range of this proposal. Therefore, the cost-benefit analysis makes no quantifiable estimate of the costs, though there will be some compliance costs associated with shifting the market to safer alternatives.
In the absence of the proposed Regulations or equivalent voluntary actions, the number of child fatalities is projected to continue at the current rate. Over the next 20 years, this would mean the strangulation death of up to 26 children in Canada. It is estimated that adopting the proposed Regulations would prevent the death of 20 of those 26 children over the next 20 years, as well as prevent other non-fatal strangulation injuries. The proposed Regulations would result in a socio-economic benefit valued at approximately $1 million per year starting in the first year, increasing to almost $10 million per year once risks are fully eliminated in the tenth year and beyond. Over the next 20 years, this would provide a social benefit valued at approximately $73 million.
The proposed Regulations would also significantly reduce testing requirements for industry, which is estimated to be a saving of $5.7 million per year, resulting in cumulative savings of $64 million.
The total benefits of the proposed Regulations are estimated to be $138 million over 20 years (2016 price level, discounted at 7%).
“One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: The “One-for-One” Rule applies, as there would be a decrease in administrative costs of approximately $85,000 annually. These savings are considered an “OUT” under the Rule and are related to the removal of the record-keeping provision that exists in the current CWCPR.
The small business lens applies to this proposal. In order to provide additional flexibility, the proposed Regulations would come into force six months following publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II.
International coordination and cooperation: In 2012, Health Canada, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (U.S. CPSC), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the European Commission (EC) agreed that the highest level of safety for CWCs would be achieved by eliminating the strangulation hazard. With the proposed Regulations, Canada is delivering on this commitment and positioning itself as a world leader in taking decisive action on a serious and preventable risk to young children that other regulators also consider to be a priority.
From 1986 to June 2016, Health Canada received 69 reports concerning strangulation hazards related to CWCs. Of the 69 reports, 40 reported a fatality (35 domestic, 5 international), 22 reported an injury, and 7 reported no injury. Fatalities continue to occur at an average rate of slightly more than one child fatality per year in Canada, with children between the ages of one and three years most at risk.
Strangulation incidents related to CWCs have also been reported internationally. From 1996 through 2012, the U.S. CPSC received, on average, about 11 reports of strangulation deaths per year. More recent data in the United States suggests no significant change in this fatality rate. The ACCC notes that between one and two children die in Australian homes every year as a result of CWCs. In the United Kingdom, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reports that 18 deaths involving looped blind cords occurred between the beginning of 2010 and early 2015. Each of these fatality rates is comparable to Canada when accounting for the population differences among these jurisdictions.
Health Canada has taken various actions to help reduce the risk of strangulation by CWCs. Since 1991, Health Canada has
- requested that industry voluntarily label CWCs in order to warn consumers of the risk of strangulation (1991, 1996);
- implemented consumer education campaigns and various public outreach strategies, including safety messages; letters to daycares, public health units, health care professionals, and realtor associations for distribution to parents and new home owners; media coverage; product safety publications; multiple information bulletins; a window covering safety web page; public consultation about the regulation of corded window covering products; an “Out Of Reach” public education campaign; a retail poster; a social media, radio, and print public information campaign; frequent social media safety messaging (1992, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014 to 2017);
- issued 36 product recalls, along with advisories and consumer alerts (1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2008 through 2016);
- collaborated with other regulatory bodies on initiatives such as the development of and amendments to the U.S. voluntary standard; a joint letter with the U.S. CPSC to the window covering industry encouraging the elimination of the strangulation hazard; in 2012, a joint consensus letter on a pilot alignment statement with the U.S. CPSC, the EC, and the ACCC sent to standards-development organizations [e.g. ANSI/WCMA, ISO and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA)] recommending the elimination of the strangulation hazard (1996, 2007, 2010, 2012);
- engaged with industry stakeholders by holding face-to-face meetings to encourage the elimination of the CWC strangulation hazard; sending a letter to industry requesting the voluntary retrofit of Roman shades and roll-up blinds (a follow-up market surveillance project found 91% of Roman shades and 100% of roll-up products were non-compliant with this request); making ongoing requests to eliminate the strangulation hazard via participation in standards-development committees (ANSI/WCMA and CSA) alongside industry and consumer stakeholders (1994, 1998, 2010 through 2016);
- participated in the development of standards by funding a CSA committee to write a Canadian national standard (national standard) on CWCs; proposing the incorporation by reference of the national standard into the CWCPR; participating in the update to the national standard; encouraging the application of the national standard to eliminate the strangulation hazard (1998, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014); and
- enacted the CWCPR to incorporate by reference the requirements of the national standard, which is equivalent to the current U.S. voluntary standard on CWCs (2009).
None of the risk-mitigation measures undertaken by Health Canada or other stakeholders have resulted in a significantly reduced fatality rate. The CWCPR still allow cords that can form hazardous loops and be wrapped around a child's neck, and rely upon safety devices that require additional installation and regular active consumer intervention (e.g. cord cleats). Updated regulations with stronger safety requirements are needed to better protect children in Canada.
Fatalities and injuries
Fatal incidents are sometimes incorrectly perceived to be the fault of caregivers. It is unreasonable to expect caregivers to maintain visual contact with a child at all times. Injuries and fatalities have occurred even with a typical level of supervision. Even if actions are taken most of the time to keep cords away from a child, it is reasonably foreseeable that there will be times when safety devices are not used, for instance, when the caregiver's attention is divided, or the product is used by another person (grandparent, babysitter) who is not aware of the risks and is unfamiliar with the use of a safety device. Many CWCs already come with safety devices such as cord cleats or tension devices, yet incidents continue to occur.
The following two cases illustrate that even when a CWC product meets the safety requirements of the current CWCPR, it can still pose a fatal strangulation hazard.
Strangulation death of a 14-month-old girl
In September 2012, a 14-month-old girl was strangled in the cords of a CWC product installed on a window near her crib. The operating cords were tucked into the highest part of the blinds to prevent the daughter from reaching them. Either the cord fell down, or the child managed to climb up the crib to reach them and then became entangled. Individual cords had become knotted together and formed a hazardous loop.
Health Canada subsequently sampled a product of the same design from the importer for testing. The CWC product met the performance criteria of the current CWCPR.
Strangulation death of a two-year-old boy
In November 2012, a two-year-old boy was strangled in the cords of a CWC product. The product was horizontal blinds consisting of one headrail and three panels of blinds, each panel having a set of two separate operating cords with toggles on the ends of the cords.
The manufacturer provided a test report showing the product met the performance criteria of the current CWCPR.
These incidents highlight that the deficiencies of the current CWCPR allow the strangulation hazard to persist, and that relying on active consumer intervention is not a reliable risk-mitigation measure.
Evidence shows that toddlers and young children have the ability to gain access to window covering cords in ways that are not anticipated nor expected by the caregiver. Children may climb or reach to gain access, cribs or other furniture may be placed near CWCs, or parents may simply underestimate the abilities of the child. Minimal compression of any of the major blood vessels in the neck can lead to unconsciousness within 15 seconds and brain damage begins to occur after about four minutes without oxygen. Death can occur in less than six minutes. Given that strangulation occurs quickly and silently, incidents may occur even when caregivers are nearby.
Gaps in the current CWCPR
In 2014, Health Canada completed a risk assessment on CWCs to assess the effectiveness of the current CWCPR to address the strangulation hazard. The deficiencies identified in the risk assessment were as follows:
- The requirements focus on loops only and do not address the hazard caused by long cords that can become wrapped around a child's neck, or that can become knotted or tangled, thereby forming a hazardous loop.
- Loops are still allowed when multiple cords are combined in a cord connector.
- Consumer intervention is required to install certain safety devices (e.g. tension devices, cord stops for stock blinds) and incident data show that they are not always properly installed or used by consumers.
- The risk of dying due to strangulation on CWC product cords is high for one-year-old children in Canada who live in a home where CWCs are used.
Both Health Canada's risk assessment and the U.S. CPSC's January 2015 advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) regarding CWCs have determined that CWCs that meet the requirements of the CWCPR and the equivalent American voluntary standard continue to present an unreasonable risk of injury or death to young children.
Standards development process — past efforts and current status
Standards can be important in supporting consumer product safety. Standards-development organizations use consensus-based processes. In some cases, the process may not yield a result that provides adequate protection, particularly to vulnerable populations. Throughout more than a decade of standards development processes for CWCs in both Canada and the United States, Health Canada has consistently pointed out gaps related to strangulation. Similar comments have been made by the U.S. CPSC and consumer advocates. However, significant changes have not been made to either the national standard or the equivalent American voluntary standard that would adequately address the concerns of Health Canada, the U.S. CPSC and other stakeholders.
The most recent proposed draft of the American voluntary standard put forth in November 2016 continues to allow certain CWCs to pose a risk of strangulation. Amendments to the national standard have historically reflected the amendments in the American voluntary standard. Currently, the proposed amendment to the American voluntary standard segments the market based solely on whether the product is completely or substantially fabricated in advance of any consumer request. “Stock” window coverings (fabricated prior to purchase) would be subject to strong new requirements, while “custom” products (any product that is not “stock”) would continue to be allowed to have cords that can pose a strangulation risk. In Health Canada's view, it is more appropriate to treat similar risks posed by products that serve similar functions in the same way. Furthermore, this approach would mean that products that pose a risk of strangulation would remain available, and could potentially displace safer alternatives on the market. While there may be some situations that cannot be addressed by cordless products, an exemption for an entire category of products based upon how they are distributed to consumers is not acceptable when safe alternatives exist.
The national standard, which is referred to in the CWCPR, is not currently subject to an amendment process.
The objective of the proposed Regulations is to help eliminate the strangulation hazard and to help reduce the rate of fatal strangulations associated with CWCs by specifying requirements for construction, performance, labelling and other information across all market segments. Eliminating the hazard from new products would also increase awareness of the hazard posed by existing products in consumers' homes, and may help motivate consumers to replace old products sooner than the full lifespan of the product.
The current CWCPR would be repealed and replaced with the proposed Regulations that specify requirements for construction, performance, labelling and other information, without reference to the national standard.
The proposed Regulations would restrict the length of accessible cords and the size of loops that can be created to help eliminate the risk of strangulation. The proposed Regulations would require that any cord that can be reached must be too short to wrap around a one-year-old child's neck (i.e. not more than 22 cm in length) or form a loop that can be pulled over a one-year-old child's head (i.e. not more than 44 cm in perimeter). Cords that cannot be reached would have to remain unreachable throughout the useful life of the product.
Further to the above-mentioned restrictions, the proposed Regulations would require a warning on the product, packaging, instructions, and on associated advertisements that speak to the hazards and specifications outlined above, with instructions to immediately remove the product should those hazards become present.
Coming into force
To provide flexibility for small businesses, it is proposed that the Regulations come into force six months after the day on which they are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. During the six-month period, the current CWCPR would continue to apply to all CWCs sold, advertised, imported or manufactured in Canada. This provision would allow industry the opportunity to test their products for compliance and identify options for modifying them as necessary.
Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered
Under the status quo, CWCs that are compliant with the current CWCPR would continue to pose a risk to children in Canada, resulting in an average of more than one death per year. Therefore, the status quo has been rejected, as it does not adequately protect a vulnerable population.
From 1991 to 2009, Health Canada was actively engaged in encouraging industry to take voluntary measures to address the strangulation risk posed by CWCs. Despite ongoing education and active industry engagement, changes to make products adequately protective were not made. In addition, the United States and Australia have expressed their intent to introduce mandatory requirements for these products, suggesting that voluntary measures have not been effective at mitigating this risk in other jurisdictions. It is anticipated that further voluntary measures would not be sufficient to significantly reduce the risks to children in Canada.
Education and outreach to consumers
Education efforts by Health Canada, industry, and various non-governmental groups have not significantly helped reduce strangulation injuries and deaths. Continued outreach activities may be considered a complementary instrument for raising awareness and helping to mitigate the risk from products already in people's homes. Additional education and outreach activities on their own are unlikely to be any more successful in preventing injuries and deaths than the education campaigns to date.
An outright prohibition on CWCs would be more stringent than what is required to eliminate risks from new window coverings, would unduly restrict consumer choice and would place a greater financial burden on industry.
Updating of the national standard
The national standard update in 2013–2014 did not incorporate a number of Health Canada's proposed requirements that would eliminate the strangulation hazard. The national standard continues to allow compliant products to pose a risk of strangulation. Given the consensus approach of the standards process, another update to the national standard may continue to allow these products to pose a risk of strangulation. Health Canada has repeatedly communicated that, in the absence of an adequately protective Canadian standard, the Department would be moving to stronger regulatory approaches. Communications have included the publication of a Notice to Interested Parties in August 2015, a Consumer Product Update in March 2016, as well as an announcement from the Minister of Health in October 2016. Therefore, this option was rejected.
All prior approaches, including voluntary measures, industry outreach and education, consumer outreach and education, and incorporation of the national standard by reference into regulation, have been unsuccessful in reducing the strangulation risk posed by CWCs. Therefore, a regulatory approach where performance requirements are specified in the regulation is the preferred option.
Benefits and costs
Presented below is the projected state of the Canadian market for window coverings, along with a qualitative discussion of costs and the estimated benefits of the proposed Regulations over the next 20 years. A number of uncertainties associated with this analysis are discussed in the section on sensitivity and uncertainty.
For the analysis of costs and benefits presented in this Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement, it has been assumed that in the absence of the proposed Regulations, the manufacture, import, and sale of window coverings in Canada would remain unchanged over the next 20 years.
As of 2015, approximately 10 million window coverings in styles that could be impacted by the proposed Regulations are sold in Canada each year. The total sales are valued at approximately $700 million. Prices vary considerably by the type of unit, with inexpensive stock products like vinyl blinds costing less than $40 each on average, and with more expensive custom blinds costing up to hundreds of dollars per window. A majority of the window coverings sold in Canada each year contain accessible cords that pose a risk of strangulation, and would not be compliant with the proposed Regulations. At the lower end of the price range, it is estimated that most window coverings sold have accessible cords, and cordless versions are more common at the higher end of the price range.
Under this business-as-usual scenario, children in Canada would continue to be exposed to the current risk of strangulation from window coverings with accessible cords. Health Canada's risk assessment shows that fatalities continue to occur in Canada at an average rate of slightly more than one child fatality per year. The number of deaths in any given year varies, and has ranged between zero and four deaths per year. The most recent period that was assessed indicates an average rate of 1.3 deaths per year. In the absence of the proposed Regulations, it is assumed that this trend of 1.3 deaths per year caused by CWCs would continue, resulting in an estimated 26 deaths over the next 20 years.
Health Canada undertook a stakeholder survey to gather information about the anticipated costs assumed by companies switching from CWCs with accessible cords that pose a risk of strangulation to safer alternatives that would meet the requirements of the proposed Regulations. The CWCs do not have to be completely cordless to meet the proposed Regulations. However, the information that was obtained was limited to the costs of making all products completely cordless. Therefore, at present there is no reliable dataset from which to infer the cost range of this proposal, and no quantifiable estimate of the costs can be made.
It is anticipated that industry will assume some costs related to bringing products into compliance. It is likely that industry will choose solutions according to its situation, whether it involves switching to a cordless design, shielding cords, redesigning or substituting parts, or shifting to alternate product categories. No data has been found to quantify any of these options. An upper-limit estimate that assumes industry movement to completely cordless designs is presented in the section on sensitivity and uncertainty.
The primary benefit of the proposed Regulations is that children in Canada will no longer be at risk of serious injury and death because of CWCs that pose a risk of strangulation. An average of 1.3 children die in Canada every year due to strangulation by CWCs. In the absence of measures to effectively mitigate the risks posed by these products, that trend is projected to continue. Over the next 20 years, this means the death of 26 children in Canada.
The proposed Regulations will not immediately eliminate all incidents, because existing CWCs in Canadian homes may not be replaced right away, and will continue to pose risks to children until they are replaced. Over time, once the existing CWCs in Canadian homes are replaced by new window coverings compliant with the proposed Regulations, the long-term risk of strangulation due to window coverings is assumed to be nil.
Assuming an average 10-year life expectancy for CWCs in Canada, and assuming a uniform distribution of products across Canadian households, the strangulation risk linked to CWCs is estimated to decrease by 10% per year, reducing the expected average 1.3 deaths per year by 10% each year, starting when the proposed Regulations come into force. Under these assumptions, it is expected that there would still be about 6 deaths related to CWCs over the next 20 years in houses where CWCs have not yet been replaced. The proposed Regulations are therefore expected to prevent the deaths of approximately 20 children in Canada over the next 20 years.
While the monetary benefit of saving the life of a child is incalculable, it is possible to measure the reduction in risk faced by families in Canada. In social welfare terms, for an average Canadian, a one out of 100 000 reduction in the risk of death is estimated to provide a social benefit valued at $75. To get a total socio-economic benefit across Canadian households, this socio-economic value of a risk reduction is multiplied by the size of the risk reduction generated by the proposed Regulations, and then multiplied by the number of Canadian households with children. Based on this approach, the proposed Regulations would provide a socio-economic benefit valued at approximately $1 million per year starting in the first year the Regulations are in effect, increasing to almost $10 million per year once strangulation risks are fully eliminated in the tenth year and beyond. Over the next 20 years, this would provide a social benefit valued at up to $73 million (at a 7% discount rate).
The proposed Regulations would also significantly reduce testing requirements for the window covering industry in Canada. Under the CWCPR, industry must perform a wide range of tests on its products to ensure compliance with existing requirements, and must retain documents that show that the product meets the requirements. The types of tests and the costs of these tests vary by product type, but can be extensive.
By contrast, the proposed Regulations would require significantly fewer tests. Based on a weighted average of the testing cost for all products under the CWCPR, costs related to testing would be reduced by approximately 90%, for a saving of approximately $3,150 per product line every time it is tested.
For the purpose of this analysis, it is assumed that approximately 900 CWC businesses with an average of six product lines will test each particular product line once every three years. Averaging out the $3,150 in cost savings over three years results in a saving of $1,050 per product line per year. The proposed Regulations are thus estimated to save industry approximately $5.7 million per year in testing costs. This results in undiscounted cost savings of $113 million over the next 20 years, or $64 million at a 7% discount rate.
Total benefits to Canadians are calculated by adding the benefits associated with reduced mortality risk and the benefit of lower annual product testing costs for industry. The total benefits are estimated to be $6.6 million in the first year of regulation, increasing to $15.4 million by the tenth year and beyond. Cumulative benefits from 2017 to 2036 would be $264 million. Discounting future benefits at 7% annually gives a total benefit valued at $138 million over the next 20 years.
The proposed Regulations take into consideration the amount of strength that children and the elderly can apply, and have specified force requirements to allow for the operation of products without difficulty for the elderly while still providing safety to children. There is no additional cost associated with this issue.
Persons of short stature and those with physical disabilities may already have difficulty using current safety devices, like cord cleats, intended to be high off the ground. The CWCs that are compliant with the proposed Regulations may also inconvenience these same persons and make them more likely to have to change their furniture placement or switch to different window covering types (e.g. curtains).
Sensitivity and uncertainty in the costs and benefits
Key uncertainties and their impacts on costs and benefits are discussed below.
Voluntary industry shift to compliant stock products
Efforts have been made to work with industry to arrive at an adequately protective standard for CWCs. While the evidence to date indicates that such a standard is unlikely in the foreseeable future, the analysis below examines the impact of certain possible voluntary measures.
It has been suggested by some stakeholders that stock products will restrict the length of cords and loops (similar to what is in the proposed Regulations) within the next few years. This is due to potential rule-making in the United States, ongoing voluntary American standard developments, and public commitments from various major retailers to discontinue selling CWCs that pose a risk of strangulation.
Based on the proximity and similarity of markets, it is likely that manufacturers would prefer to make a product that can be sold in both Canada and the United States, rather than making separate products for each market. If industry were to voluntarily stop selling CWCs that pose a risk of strangulation in the United States, then those same products would likely also not be sold in Canada. Therefore, the incremental impact of the proposed Regulations for this alternative scenario would be less significant.
The primary analysis assumed that the proposed Regulations would affect about 10 million units sold in Canada each year, 80–90% of which are estimated to be stock products. If industry chooses to eliminate all stock products that pose a strangulation hazard even in the absence of the proposed Regulations, then the proposal would only impact about one million custom (or non-stock) products per year. Under this alternative scenario, and assuming an upper-limit estimate of 90% proportion of products which are stock, both the costs and benefits of the proposed Regulations would be 90% less than those estimated in the primary analysis.
Applying a 3% discount rate
Given that the benefits of the proposed Regulations include significant human health benefits, a lower social discount rate of 3% could be applied in this analysis, rather than the accepted standard discount rate of 7%, which is typically applied when costs and benefits are primarily financial. Using a 3% discount rate over the next 20 years results in benefits valued at $196 million.
Applying adult risk-reduction values to children
This analysis produces an underestimate of the likely health benefits of the proposed Regulations because the economic value of risk reductions used for this calculation is based on studies of Canadian adults, not children. Due to lack of clear scientific or economic consensus, a child-specific value for risk reduction has not been adopted in this analysis. However, a report prepared for Health Canada by Alberini and Scasny in 2016 estimated that reducing the risk of premature death among children delivers as much as 40% more social and economic benefit compared to equivalent risk reductions among adults. If this figure were applied to the current analysis, the benefits of the proposed Regulations would increase from $73 million to $102 million.
Uncertainty about savings due to non-fatal injuries
This cost-benefit analysis has focused exclusively on the risk of death caused by strangulation. Premature death is by far the most serious risk, and therefore dominates the measurable economic benefits of the proposed Regulations. However, it is expected that the proposed Regulations would also result in a reduction in the risk of non-fatal injuries related to CWCs. By excluding these non-fatal outcomes from the calculations, this analysis further underestimates the benefits of the proposed Regulations.
Uncertainty about testing frequency
One of the key uncertainties related to the benefits of reduced testing requirements pertains to the frequency of testing. If manufacturers or importers are currently testing their products more frequently than once every three years, then the cost savings of the proposed Regulations would increase proportionally. If products are currently being tested every other year, savings would be $8.5 million per year, and if testing is currently being done annually, then the proposed Regulations would save $17 million per year. If tests are currently being done less frequently than once every three years, then the estimated cost savings would similarly decrease proportionately to the test frequency.
Uncertainty about sales levels
The estimate of 10 million units sold in Canada each year, as well as the distribution of different types of blinds and shades within that 10 million figure, is based on the limited Canadian data available, combined with extrapolations from U.S. data and assumptions about the distribution of different product types. All of these assumptions and extrapolations have a degree of uncertainty. In the absence of primary Canadian data, it is not known if the assumptions used underestimated or overestimated sales levels in Canada.
Upper-limit cost estimate based on a completely cordless design
An upper-limit cost estimate is based on a 2016 study that analyzed the assembly and incremental manufacturing costs of the components required to convert a CWC product to a completely cordless design. Costs are based on average increases in manufacturing costs per unit, which are then multiplied by the number of units sold in Canada to get the total increase in manufacturing cost.
Based on this analysis, it is estimated that the manufacturing cost of converting the existing production of CWCs to the production of fully cordless alternatives would increase by up to $60 million per year. Over the next 20 years, this would result in cumulative costs of up to $680 million (at a 7% discount rate).
By estimating the costs of adopting fully cordless technology for all CWCs instead of only restricting cord lengths, this analysis overestimates the costs of compliance with the proposed Regulations and is considered the highest-anticipated estimate. In addition, these cost estimates were based on current technologies, and do not consider future technological innovation, manufacturing process improvements, and design changes over the next 20 years that could lower production costs. These factors would likely make cordless technology less expensive or give rise to other less-expensive safer alternatives.
From available data, it is not possible to estimate how much of these total additional social costs would be divided and borne by manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers, or consumers.
Summary and accounting statement
The proposed Regulations are estimated to result in quantified benefits of approximately $138 million over the next 20 years. These benefits are associated with the elimination of the strangulation risk of CWCs, and reduced product testing costs.
Although the proposed Regulations are anticipated to result in some costs that would be distributed, to varying degrees, among manufacturers, importers, retailers, and consumers with window coverings in their homes, these costs are justified by the benefit of preventing the deaths of young children.
A summary of the quantified and qualitative impacts of the proposed Regulations is shown in Table 1.
|A — Quantified and monetized impacts (in millions of 2016 Canadian dollars)
Monetized value of reduced mortality risk for Canadian children and their families
B — Quantified impacts, not monetized
Expected number of products that would need to be compliant with the proposed Regulations
10 000 000
10 000 000
10 000 000
10 000 000
10 000 000
10 000 000
10 000 000
C — Unquantified and qualitative impacts
Reduce risk of non-fatal accidents
Compliance with international commitments to the highest level of safety for CWCs.
Creation of a level playing field and align with projected developments in the United States.
Provide incentive for development of new, safer technology, along with reduced testing and record-keeping costs.
Up front capital costs related to design changes, tooling and manufacturing process changes.
Possible incremental component costs for compliant designs.
Possible shift in consumer choice for some product categories.
Possibility that some consumers may find compliant window coverings less practical or convenient.
Cordless window coverings may be difficult for some users to operate in certain limited settings.
The proposed Regulations result in administrative savings to the CWC industry, related to the removal of the record-keeping provision that exists in the current CWCPR.
In 2015, Health Canada conducted a market surveillance and enforcement project on CWCs, where approximately 900 stakeholders were identified as manufacturers, importers, and retailers of CWCs in Canada. Information obtained from companies involved in the product sampling and testing of that project indicated an average of 6 different product lines per company, and test reports that were generally between one and three years old. Given this information, it is estimated that 5 400 product lines are tested every three years in Canada.
It is estimated that the activities related to record keeping, contracting a test facility, maintaining a test report, and producing a test report upon request take on average 3.25 hours per year, per company. The annualized administrative cost savings (discounted to 2012 dollars) are estimated to be approximately $85,000 for industry as a whole, or $95 per business.
Since the proposed Regulations impact administrative burden, the “One-for-One” Rule applies. However, because the proposed Regulations will result in administrative savings, this proposal is considered an “OUT” under the Rule and the administrative credits will be banked towards offsetting an increase in administrative burden to stakeholders in the future.
Small business lens
The small business lens applies to this proposal.
There are an estimated 800 small businesses involved in the manufacture, import, and sale of CWCs in Canada. This estimate is based on a list of establishments contacted by Health Canada in a 2015 market surveillance project. Of those 800 businesses, 159 were identified as manufacturers, according to the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) 33792 — Blind and Shade Manufacturing.
The initial option considered was an immediate coming into force of the proposed Regulations, on the basis of the existing strangulation risk posed by CWCs in the market today. Given the unknown costs, an alternative flexible option involves a coming-into-force period of six months. This provision would give industry the opportunity to modify or redesign their products to meet regulatory requirements, verify the regulatory compliance of their products through product testing, and provide adequate time to transition out of old inventory.
It is proposed that the Regulations come into force six months after the day on which they are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. At present, there is no reliable dataset to quantify the incremental costs to small businesses to meet the requirements of the proposed Regulations. Costs will also vary depending on the extent to which their current mix of window coverings will meet the proposed Regulations. Savings from reduced testing and record-keeping requirements will offset some of these compliance costs and will benefit small businesses the most.
An estimate of the compliance costs of shifting to completely cordless products for all CWCs is presented in the table below. It overestimates the costs of compliance with the proposed Regulations. These costs assume that a business's complete product lineup does not meet the proposed requirements and would need to be converted to a completely cordless design, instead of simply restricting cord lengths. The savings of the flexible option, compared to the initial option, are estimated to be approximately $35,000 per small business. These savings relate mostly to a business having less inventory that it would not able to sell when the proposed Regulations come into force.
|Initial Option||Flexible Option|
|Short description||An immediate coming into force of the proposed Regulations||A coming into force period of six months|
|Maximum number of small businesses affected||800||800|
|Present Value (see footnote *)
|Present Value (see footnote **)
|Total compliance costs||$34,908,765||$42,893,478||$7,582,942||$14,769,184|
|Average cost per small business||$43,636||$53,617||$9,479||$18,461|
In August 2015, Health Canada published a Notice to interested parties in the Canada Gazette, Part I, about the risk of strangulation posed by CWCs.
Health Canada received 41 comments from various manufacturers (both large and small businesses), consumers, consumer advocates, a test laboratory, and an industry association. Thirty-six of the comments were in favour of Health Canada taking further action to address the strangulation hazard associated with CWCs. Four comments stated that no further regulatory action is required, and one neutral comment was submitted.
Arguments in favour of Health Canada taking further action, including amendments to the CWCPR, included
- Availability of safe window covering product alternatives, and the existence of technology to make safer products;
- Difficulty of using cord cleats for certain segments of the population based on the specified installation height requirement and dexterity required;
- Reliance on user intervention is not the best injury prevention model;
- Restrictive lease agreements for those who rent and are not allowed to replace CWCs that may be installed;
- Family and friend connections to a child who was fatally strangled by CWCs;
- Any measure that requires action by an installer or user does not guarantee product safety; consumers should not be required to install additional hardware for the product to be safe, especially when people may not be aware of the risk;
- Products with inaccessible cords are the most feasible solution to offering a combination of safety and traditional design; and
- There will be no elimination of the strangulation hazard unless Health Canada and the U.S. CPSC take action.
Arguments opposed to further regulatory action by Health Canada included
- The issue/risk is overstated;
- Statements that dispute the data and conclusions presented by regulators;
- A requirement to reduce the risk of strangulation posed by CWCs would disrupt business and increase the cost of the product and subsequently result in increased retail costs to consumers, potentially cause a loss of customers, and cause a loss of revenue;
- The issue can be adequately addressed through consumer education and the promotion of safety devices;
- There will be a potential loss of business, and a loss of jobs;
- Cordless options are not always chosen by the customer due to a variety of reasons including cost, application, and accessibility;
- In some situations it is just not possible to go cordless for many applications;
- It is the homeowner's responsibility to decide if there is a risk and ensure proper installation of safety devices; and
- The strangulation concern is adequately covered by current standards.
The proposed Regulations are not likely to address some of the opposing concerns presented by some stakeholders. Arguments that suggest the strangulation hazard is adequately covered by the current CWCPR, that further consumer education will address the risk, and that safety devices are adequately protective are not supported by the incident data. The rate of child fatalities has not been significantly reduced in Canada or other jurisdictions even with these measures already in place for a number of years. While product cost is anticipated to increase, it is justified by preventing the deaths of more children in Canada.
The current legislative approach to CWCs differs between Canada and the United States. Canada has regulations, and the United States does not. Rather, the United States relies on a voluntary standard that is equivalent to Canada's current regulatory requirements.
Health Canada and its major regulatory partners share a common objective of reducing the risks of strangulation in CWCs as evidenced by the 2012 pilot alignment statement, and it is expected that each jurisdiction will find common ground with these proposed Regulations as they revise or introduce their own requirements. The United States has already taken the first steps in rule making by publishing an ANPR in 2015. Australia should soon be reviewing its legislation. However, the timing and final outcome of these proceedings remain uncertain.
Enacting the proposed Regulations would place Canada ahead of proceedings in the United States and other jurisdictions. It would also position Canada as a world leader in taking decisive action on a serious and preventable risk to young children that other regulators also consider to be a priority.
Strangulation by CWCs is a preventable hazard that affects a vulnerable population. Despite 25 years of public education, active industry engagement, concerted attempts to improve the standard, and the introduction of the CWCPR in 2009, the number and rate of injuries and deaths related to strangulation by CWCs have not been significantly reduced.
The proposed Regulations adhere to the framework of Canada's Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan, namely the concepts of active prevention and targeted oversight. The proposed Regulations enable Health Canada to take swift enforcement action to address non-compliant CWCs entering the Canadian market.
It is anticipated that the proposed Regulations will result in some economic costs that may be distributed among manufacturers, importers, retailers and consumers of window coverings; however, these costs are considered justifiable to eliminate this hazard.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
The proposed Regulations would not result in any major changes to Health Canada's enforcement activities. The incremental financial and non-financial resources required to implement the proposal are estimated to be extremely low; a compliance and enforcement program currently exists for CWCs and no additional government resources are anticipated.
Compliance and enforcement of the proposed Regulations would follow Health Canada's established approaches and procedures, including sampling and testing of products, inspection at retail and follow-up on complaints made by the Canadian public and reporting by industry. Non-compliant products would be subject to the actions available to Health Canada inspectors and other officials, and would depend on the seriousness of the circumstances. These actions may include a voluntary commitment to product correction by industry, negotiation with industry for the voluntary removal of non-compliant products from the market, seizure, orders for recall or other measures, administrative monetary penalties, and prosecution under the CCPSA. Health Canada would also seek to maximize compliance with the proposed Regulations through ongoing industry and retailer education, and maximize corded window covering safety through consumer outreach and education.
Consumer Product Safety Directorate
Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch
Address Locator: 4908B
269 Laurier Avenue West
PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT
Notice is given that the Governor in Council, pursuant to section 37 (see footnote a) of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (see footnote b), proposes to make the annexed Corded Window Coverings Regulations.
Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 75 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Scott Postma, Senior Regulatory Policy and Risk Management Advisor, Risk Management Strategies Division, Consumer Product Safety Directorate, 269 Laurier Avenue West, 8th Floor, Address Locator 4908B, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ottawa, June 8, 2017
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council
Corded Window Coverings Regulations
1 The following definitions apply in these Regulations.
cord means any of the following:
- (a) a band, rope, strap, string, chain, , wire or any other component that is capable of folding in every direction; or
- (b) any combination of components that are connected end to end that is capable of folding in every direction. (corde)
corded window covering means an indoor window covering that is equipped with at least one cord. (couvre-fenêtre à cordes)
loop means a shape, the majority of which is formed by a reachable cord, that creates a completely bounded opening. (boucle)
reachable with respect to a cord, refers to 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. (atteignable)
2 Every part of a corded window covering that is accessible to a child and is small enough to be totally enclosed in a small parts cylinder as illustrated in Schedule 1 must be affixed to the corded window covering so that the part does not become detached when it is subjected to a force of 90 N applied in any direction.
3 Every external component of a corded window covering must not contain more than 90 mg/kg of lead when tested in accordance with the principles set out in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development document entitled OECD Principles of Good Laboratory Practice, Number 1 of the OECD Series on Principles of Good Laboratory Practice and Compliance Monitoring, ENV/MC/CHEM(98)17, the English version of which is dated January 21, 1998 and the French version of which is dated March 6, 1998.
4 A cord that is not reachable must remain so, whether the corded window covering is fully opened, fully closed or in any position in between, throughout the useful life of the corded window covering.
Reachable cord with one free end — length
5 A reachable cord with one free end must not measure more than 22 cm in length when it is pulled in any direction by the gradual application of force attaining 45 N.
Reachable cord between two consecutive contact points — length
6 A reachable cord with no free end must not measure more than 22 cm in length between two consecutive contact points when it is pulled in any direction by the gradual application of force attaining 45 N.
Loop created by a reachable cord — perimeter
7 If a reachable cord is pulled in any direction by the gradual application of force attaining 45 N, the perimeter of any loop, whether it is existing, created or enlarged, must not exceed 44 cm .
Two reachable cords
8 If two reachable cords with one free end each can be connected to one another, end to end, after each has been pulled in any direction by the gradual application of force attaining 45 N, the following criteria must be met:
- (a) the length of the resulting cord must not exceed 22 cm; and
- (b) the perimeter of the loop that is created must not exceed 44 cm.
Information and Advertising
Reference to Canada Consumer Product Safety Act or Regulations
9 Information that appears on a corded window covering, that accompanies one or that is in any advertisement for one must not make any direct or indirect reference to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act or these Regulations.
Presentation — general
10 The information required by these Regulations must :
- (a) appear in both English and French;
- (b) be legible and prominently and clearly displayed and in particular the characters must be in a colour that contrasts sharply with the background;
- (c) remain legible and visible throughout the useful life of the corded window covering under normal conditions of transportation, storage, sale and use; and
- (d) in the case of information that is required on the corded window covering, be indelibly printed on the corded window covering itself or on a label that is permanently affixed to it.
11 (1) The required information must be printed in a standard sans-serif type that
- (a) is not compressed, expanded or decorative; and
- (b) has a large x-height relative to the ascender or descender of the type, as illustrated in Schedule 2.
Height of type
(2) The height of the type is determined by measuring an upper case letter or a lower case letter that has an ascender or descender, such as “b” or “p”.
12 (1) The signal words “Warning” and “Mise en garde” must be in boldfaced, upper case type not less than 5 mm in height.
Other information — height of type
(2) All other required information must be in type not less than 2.5 mm in height.
Required information — general
13 The following information must appear on every corded window covering, as well as on any packaging in which it is displayed to the consumer:
- (a) its model name or model number;
- (b) its date of manufacture, consisting of the year and either the month or week, listed in that order;
- (c) in the case of a corded window covering that is manufactured in Canada, the name and principal place of business of the manufacturer or the person for whom the corded window covering was manufactured; and
- (d) in the case of a corded window covering that is imported for commercial purposes, the name and principal place of business of the manufacturer and the importer.
Instructions — assembly, installation and operation
14 The following instructions must accompany every corded window covering in text, drawings or photographs, or in any combination of them:
- (a) how to assemble the corded window covering and a quantitative list of its parts, if it is sold not fully assembled;
- (b) how to install it; and
- (c) how to operate it.
15 The following warning or its equivalent must appear on every corded window covering, its packaging, the instructions that accompany it and all of its advertisements:
- STRANGULATION HAZARD — Young children can be strangled by a cord of this product. Immediately remove this product if a cord longer than 22 cm or a loop exceeding 44 cm around is exposed.
MISE EN GARDE
- RISQUE D'ÉTRANGLEMENT — Les enfants en bas âge peuvent s'étrangler avec une corde de ce produit. Retirez immédiatement ce produit si une corde mesurant plus de 22 cm est à découvert ou si le contour d'une boucle à découvert est de plus de 44 cm.
16 The Corded Window Covering Products Regulations (see footnote 1) are repealed.
Coming into Force
Six months after publication
17 These Regulations come into force on the day that, in the sixth month after the month in which they are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, has the same calendar number as the day on which they are published or, if that sixth month has no day with that number, the last day of that sixth month.
Small Parts Cylinder
Standard Sans-serif Type