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Brussels, 23 March 2010
Questions and Answers on Cords and drawstrings
What was the objective of this joint action by product safety authorities in Member States?
The primary purpose of the joint action by Member States was:
The project was co-financed by the European Commission.
Participants were market surveillance authorities from eleven Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands and Portugal. In addition, Spain participated in the technical meetings and Belgium and Cyprus asked to be regularly informed on the progress of the action. The participant Member States were coordinated by PROSAFE (Product Safety Enforcement Forum of Europe) . (See Annex 3 of PROSAFE Report for the list of market surveillance authorities).
Why were these products chosen for investigation?
There is strong evidence that cords and drawstrings, if too long or placed unsafely in garments, expose children that wear them to serious risks, sometimes with fatal results.
Prior to the launch of this joint action, some of the participating Member States had undertaken market surveillance activities on cords and drawstrings in children garments, including, in some instances, clothes sold on-line. In the majority of cases, a substantial share of non compliances were identified, ranking from 20% of the products investigated in 2007 in Estonia to more than 10% in France in 2008.
What is the size of the EU's children's clothing market?
Children’s clothing is a business with a multi billion Euro annual turnover. Portuguese authorities have estimated an annual turnover of 550 million Euro for children’s clothing in their country. Austria estimate their imports at 3.6 billion Euro, exports at 1.7 billion Euro and production for the domestic market at 0.7 billion Euro.
Can you give an example of each type of risk?
Cords and drawstrings can lead to injury or death if they get caught in items such as playground equipment, escalators, automatic doors, car or bus doors, ski-lifts or in the spokes of bicycle wheels.
The Main Risks are as follows:
The following are typical scenarios. All occurred in at least one Member State:
Other potential hazards include choking, if all or part of a toggle becomes detached. See Annex for pictures of risk types.
Do you have hard data on accidents and injuries linked to clothes with cords and drawstrings?
Although hard data is not gathered systematically in the Member States, accidents and injuries linked to cords and drawstrings in children's garments do occur regularly, sometimes leading to fatal results
In 2002, in a sample of hospitals in seven Member States, 150 children aged between 0 and 14 visited the emergency department for injuries caused by cords or drawstrings.
In Greece, one accident was reported in June 2007 involving the elastic cord from the waist area of a jacket, injuring the eye of a 10 year old child. In November 2008, the cord from the neck area of a knitted jacket worn by a 2.5 year old girl was caught in a slide in a playground and resulted in the death of the child. It is important to note that it is not so much the number of accidents and injuries as their extreme seriousness which is of concern as evidenced above.
Over the past 23 years, the US Consumer product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received reports of 27 deaths and 70 non-fatal incidents involving the entanglement of children’s clothing drawstrings.
According to the Injury Data Base (IDB) Report on injuries in Europe and the WHO report on child injuries in Europe strangulation in general is one of the causes of the 30% of unintentional deaths in Europe. This is why, according to the Child Safety Alliance , requirements on cords and drawstrings in children clothes is one of the key performance indicators to assess progress for reducing injury-related deaths and disability amongst children. (See also the Child Safety Report Cards project which is co-financed under the Public Health Programme).
What were the main findings of the action?
From August 2008 until February 2010 4642 inspections were carried out with particular focus on retailers, including on line sales, but also wholesalers, manufactures and importers. During the joint action:
How were the children grouped for the purpose of the study?
The European standard EN 14682 contains specific requirements on the presence and features of cords and drawstrings. Requirements in the standard are divided in two main categories, according to the age of the children:
Which corrective measures have been taken?
During the joint action, the participant Member States took several corrective actions against the non-compliant and dangerous garments identified, such as withdrawal from the market, recall from consumers and a ban on sales. The measures were notified in the RAPEX system. More than 400 notifications of non-compliant and dangerous garments were submitted to the RAPEX systems during the joint action.
RULES AND RESPONSIBILITY
Which rules govern the safety of children’s clothing?
The General Product Safety Directive (Directive 2001/95) requires that products placed on the market must be safe. This applies also to children clothes. The Directive has been transposed as binding regulation in all the EU Member states.
In addition, the European standard EN 14682:2007 contains specific baseline requirements to ensure that cords and drawstrings are placed safely on children garments. The standard has been adopted as a national standard in all EU Member States. Finally, some Member Sates have issued or maintain national guidelines and regulations. In the UK, the Hoods and Cords Regulation specifies that the hoods of children’s outer garments must not be designed to be secured by means of cords drawn through the material.
In 2008, the French authorities issued a set of recommendations to economic operators and advice to consumers to ensure the safety of children clothes against the risks posed by cords and drawstrings, as well as against other risks.
What does the European standard cover specifically and why was it drawn up?
The European standard EN 14682-2007 specifies requirements for cords and drawstrings on children’s clothing, including disguise costumes and skiwear, up to the age of 14.
Within the scope of the European standard it is not possible to cover all potential hazards that may create an unsafe garment. The standard does not apply to child care and use articles such as bibs, nappies and soother holders, gloves, hats, scarves, neckties designed to be worn with a shirt or blouse, belts or braces, specialist sportswear or theatrical costumes worn for limited periods.
Who is responsible for the safety of such garments?
Producers must ensure that garments they place on the market are safe. Also importers, distributors and retailers are required to act with due care to ensure that products they supply to consumers are safe.
Has industry co-operated in this project?
Representatives of major garments manufacturers and retailers have attended workshops with the participant Member States in February and November 2009. The participation of the business sector was mutually beneficial, as it enabled clarification of questions and practical issues on compliance with the standard and, in general, to raise awareness. In addition, it was agreed that PROSAFE (Product Safety Enforcement Forum of Europe) will release an expert paper to inform business operators about the risks of unsafe cords and draw attention to the essential requirements in standard En 14682.
What action can the Commission take to reduce the appearance of such garments on the EU market?
The Commission will continue to monitor that safety rules are properly implemented and will support the Member State authorities in their joint actions. Information to consumers is very important and general awareness and circulation of information to all the actors involved, whether private business or public authorities, is crucial.
How are national authorities informing consumers?
During the joint action the participant Member States provided public information about the risks posed by cords and drawstrings. Practical tips for consumers were also provided.
What can parents do?
Whereas economic operators have to comply with the requirements of the European standard EN 14682:2007 (or ensure an equivalent level of safety), parents and caregivers can also follow these basic recommendations to ensure that cords and drawstrings do not expose their children to serious risks:
Observe the same requirements to make homemade children’s clothes safe.
If you already possess children’s clothes that fail to meet the above requirements you should remove or cut off the cord or drawstring. . If you have bought a garment that does not comply with these basic rules, you can report it to the market surveillance authorities in your country;
Where are most of the clothes coming from?
According to the information provided by the Member States participating in the joint action, children's clothes circulating in the EU originate almost equally both from outside the EU and from the EU.
For further information, please visit:
Annex Examples of risk types
Garments banned because of cords or drawstrings in the hood and neck area on clothes for children up to 7 years
Garments banned because of drawstrings with free ends in the hood and neck area on clothes for children between 7 and 14 years.
Note: The free ends of the cords and drawstrings on the both garments also have knots. This does not comply with EN 14682, clause 3.1.1.
Garments banned because of loose ends in the hood and neck area on halter neck-style children’s clothes
EN 14682, clause 3.3.5 gives the detailed requirement.
Garments banned because of cords or drawstrings with free ends longer than 140 mm in the chest and waist area