Executive summary

Uncovered cords for window coverings (e.g. roller blinds, concertina blinds, Roman blinds and slatted blinds like Venetian blinds) can pose a risk of strangulation to young children who can become entangled in cord loops.

In New Zealand, 3 children have died due to cords in window coverings from 2012 to 2021. This is an average of 0.33 deaths per year, equivalent to 0.12 deaths per 100,000 children under 4 years of age. For comparison, the rate is 0.16 in Australia, 0.04 in Canada and 0.08 in the United Kingdom.

A consumer awareness survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and conducted by Perceptive in February/March 2022, found that 7 out of 10 New Zealanders who regularly have children under 6 years of age in their dwelling have corded window coverings.

Some other countries have regulated corded window coverings, but New Zealand has not. For example, Australia regulates corded designs and their installation so that cords are far from children’s reach.

To date, MBIE has engaged with retailers and non-governmental organisations, and conducted a digital campaign targeting consumers, to raise awareness and encourage the voluntary retrofitting of safety measures for corded blinds or the purchase and sale of cordless designs.

Focus of this consultation process

The Government is considering regulating corded window coverings under a product safety standard to address the risk that they pose to young children. Protecting young children is considered a high priority, as they are not able to take independent measures to protect themselves.

This document consults on possible approaches to regulation, as well as other non-regulatory options that could support regulation.

MBIE seeks feedback on the following options:

  • Option 1: further information and education to encourage safe consumer behaviour (e.g. communication programmes, social media campaigns, etc.) only.
  • Option 2: government assistance to households to remediate existing hazardous corded window coverings.
  • Option 3: voluntary modification measures by businesses to reduce risks (e.g. selling safety devices or cordless designs, providing advice to consumers, etc.), supported by a non-binding product safety policy statement under the Fair Trading Act 1986.
  • Option 4 (preferred by the Government): mandatory product safety regulations, which could be either:

    Option 4A: mandatory design requirements for corded window coverings

    Option 4B: prohibiting window coverings with exposed cords.

For the purposes of this consultation, all options are discussed and analysed separately. However, elements of these options may be combined in practice. In particular, Option 2 (government assistance with remediation) could be implemented separately from other options. Further consumer information and education is also likely to be relevant to the other options, but could be scaled back if it is not solely relied upon to address safety risks. Options 3, 4A and 4B are mutually exclusive options that address the supply of corded window coverings.

MBIE seeks your feedback on the nature and scale of the problem, the options, benefits, costs and other impacts of the options, and implementation.

Your feedback will be used to inform MBIE’s policy development process and advice to Ministers on addressing risks from corded window coverings.

Timeframes for consultation

Submissions on the options and proposals in this document are due before 5pm on 5 March 2023.