WASHINGTON — The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted Wednesday to move forward with a proposed rule to designate certain children’s apparel with drawstrings a “substantial product hazard,” following a dramatic increase this year in recalls of sweatshirts and jackets containing drawstrings, which pose a strangulation hazard.

This story first appeared in the May 6, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

If approved after a 60-day public comment period, the rule would classify children’s outerwear with neck or hood drawstrings or certain waist or bottom drawstrings a substantial product hazard and would subject them to greater enforcement discretion. A spokesman for the CPSC said the rule could also allow the agency to detain and prevent distribution of “violative” clothing at ports and penalties could become more severe.

Apparel manufacturers currently follow a voluntary industry standard that calls on them not to use drawstrings in the hood and neck area in outerwear sizes 2t to 12, and to meet a requirement that the ends of waist and bottom drawstrings measure no more than 3 inches from where the strings extend out of the garment when it is expanded to its fullest width. However, many apparel companies have failed to comply with the voluntary standard and the CPSC said there has been a dramatic increase in recalls and civil penalties in the past two years.

The federal agency issued 27 recalls of apparel with drawstrings in 2008, 33 recalls in 2009 and through May 4 of this year alone, the agency has already issued 26 recalls of apparel with drawstrings.

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