Hardware retail chain Bunnings Group has agreed to strengthen its compliance after the consumer watchdog in Australia found the Group had sold window blinds that did not meet safety requirements.
In a statement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says routine market surveillance uncovered practices whereby Bunnings sold Matchstick Blinds that did not carry mandatory safety warnings on retail packaging between January and March 2013, potentially exposing children to strangulation by the cord where blinds were not installed according to instructions.
The consumer watchdog says Bunnings, which has already recalled over 3,600 Matchstick Blinds, has agreed to strengthen its compliance program for window coverings to include pre-shipping inspections, regular audits and an upgrade of training for management and buyers.
“Safety warnings are crucial, especially when they relate to children,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said, adding loose curtains and blinds present dangers of chocking where children who play with them become entangled and are not able to release themselves.
“Labels on external packaging are meant to warn consumers prior to purchase of the risk of serious injury to children.”
In order to be safe, the ACCC says curtains or blinds which are either loose or looped should be secured with cleats or tension devices that enclose cords and chain loops in order to keep them out of children’s reach.
Windows with corded blinds or curtains should not be near cots, beds, highchairs or playpens, while sofas, chairs, tables, shelves and bookcases should be kept well away from such windows.
More broadly, the ACCC says blind and curtain cords should never hang within children’s reach and children should be supervised in any room where such cords are present.
The latest developments come amid ongoing debate over window safety in houses and apartments throughout Australia.
Earlier this week, the New South Wales government said it would amend Strata and Residential Tenancies legislation to require building owners and corporations to install safety devices on all windows that posed a risk to children which limit the width of window opening to 12.5 centimetres when the lock is engaged.