Macy’s Pays Out $750K Penalty for Failing to Report Clothing Drawstrings Hazards

altOn July 11th, 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that Macy’s Inc., of Cincinnati, Ohio, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $750,000 for failing to report they had sold children’s outwear with drawstrings that could pose a strangulation hazard to children.

What do you need to know about this settlement?

This settlement resolves CPSC staff allegations that Macy’s knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that it had sold children’s sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets with drawstrings at the neck between 2006 and 2010. Children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings, including sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets, poses a strangulation hazard to children that can result in serious injury or death.

The sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets that are the subject of the penalty agreement were sold by Macy’s and Macy’s-owned stores, including Bloomingdale’s, and Robinsons-May. CPSC staff alleges that Macy’s knowingly sold some garments after a recall had been negotiated, which the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 made illegal.

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 which 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.

In 1996, CPSC issued drawstring guidelines to help prevent children from strangling on or getting entangled in the neck and waist drawstrings of upper outerwear, such as jackets and sweatshirts. 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 presented a substantial risk of injury to young children.

Beginning in 2006, CPSC and the garments’ manufacturers and distributors announced recalls of the following children’s garments with drawstrings that were sold at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Robinsons-May:

In agreeing to the settlement, Macy’s denies CPSC staff allegations that it knowingly violated the law.

What should you do if you own children’s outerwear with drawstrings at the hood or neck?

The outerwear that was sold by Macy’s and is included as problematic under these CPSC guidelines include many different manufacturers and various product styles. For further information and to view more images to help identify these products, please consult the CPSC website for further information and guidelines to determine if the children’s outwear you own might pose a hazard to your child.

An additional note: On June 29, 2011, the Commission approved a final rule that designates children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 12 with neck or hood drawstrings, and children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 16 with certain waist or bottom drawstrings, as substantial product hazards.