The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced recently that Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., of Burlington, N.J., had agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1,500,000. The settlement agreement, which was provisionally accepted by the Commission, resolves CPSC staff allegations that from 2003 to 2010, Burlington knowingly failed to report immediately to CPSC, as required by federal law, that it had sold many different children’s sweatshirts and jackets with drawstrings at the neck.
Children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings, including sweatshirts, sweaters, and jackets, poses strangulation and entanglement hazards to children that can result in serious injury or death. The settlement also resolves CPSC staff allegations that from 2008 to 2012, contrary to federal law, Burlington knowingly sold or had in its store inventories of many of these garments after they had been recalled.
This penalty is the highest that the CPSC has ever assessed for violations involving children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings. Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect that could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard or ban enforced by CPSC. Federal law also bars selling products that have been recalled by a manufacturer.
CPSC began warning about drawstring dangers in the early 1990s. The agency issued guidelines in 1996 about drawstrings in children’s upper outerwear. Those guidelines were incorporated into an industry voluntary standard in 1997. In 2006, CPSC’s Office of Compliance announced that children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck would be regarded as defective and presenting a substantial risk of injury to young children. Then, in July 2011, based on the guidelines and voluntary standard, CPSC issued a federal regulation that designated as substantial product hazards children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T to 12 (or extra-small to large) with neck or hood drawstrings, and children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T to 16 (or extra-small to extra-large) with certain waist or bottom drawstrings.
The sweatshirts and jackets that are the subject of the penalty were sold by Burlington Coat Factory stores throughout the country. Beginning in 2007, the CPSC and the garments’ manufacturers and distributors, as well as Burlington in 2010, announced the recalls of children’s garments with drawstrings covered by the penalty.
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