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Eight Firms Fined Over Dangerous Drawstring Clothing

Apr 23, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Several firms that sold children's clothing with drawstrings that posed a strangulation hazard have agreed to pay  a total of $320,000 in fines, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today.  According to the announcement, the firms failed  to report to the CPSC, as required by federal law, that their children’s hooded sweatshirts or jackets were sold with drawstrings at the hood and neck.

Since April 1, 2007, there have been 17 recalls of more than 190,000 units of children's clothing because they had drawstrings in the hood or neck.  This despite the existence of an 11-year old voluntary industry standard that instructs manufacturers not to use drawstrings in the neck area of children's outerwear and to make sure drawstrings at the waist are of a certain length, have no toggles or knots, and are sewn in the back so they can't move.  The CPSC has similar guidelines on the books, and both New York and Wisconsin have made the standard mandatory.

Still the guidelines are routinely ignored by the clothing industry, and that attitude has had deadly consequences for some children.  From January 1985 through January 1999, the CPSC received reports of 22 deaths and 48 non-fatal entanglement incidents involving drawstrings on children's clothing

The CPSC can take action if it sees voluntary standards being flouted, which includes levying fines.  That is what it has done in the case of eight firms that did not report hazardous drawstring clothing to the agency.  Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report dangerous products to the CPSC within 24 hours after learning that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial risk of injury to the public, presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or violates a federal safety standards. The eight companies that have agreed to the fine are:

  • Life is Good Inc.
  • True Religion Apparel Inc.
  • The Cayre Group Ltd.
  • DollarDays International, LLC
  • Kohl's Department Stores Inc.
  • Seena International Inc.
  • Neiman Marcus Group Inc
  • Gildan Activewear SRL


Despite the fine, the CPSC said that none of the eight firms have admitted any wrongdoing.  It is doubtful that such a small fine split among eight companies will inspire many firms to follow drawstring guidelines.  To keep children safe, parents and caregivers need to take steps to keep this type of clothing away from kids. The CPSC recommends that consumers remove any drawstrings in the hood or neck area of your children's jackets, sweaters and sweatshirts. Consumers who spot clothing they think may be a hazard should be sure to notify the retailer and the CPSC.


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