Government looking to regulate corded blinds after six children die in 13 years

Regulation could be on the way for several common types of window blinds after six children died from corded blinds since 2009. 

There are currently no regulations on corded window coverings in New Zealand despite several other countries including Australia, the US and Canada taking action. 

But on Friday, The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) began consultation on the scale of the problem and potential solutions. 

The blinds which are causing concern are ones with cords such as roller blinds, concertina blinds, Roman blinds and slatted blinds like Venetian blinds.

MBIE acting manager for consumer policy Sally Whineray said blinds with loose cords are dangerous for young children. 

Whineray said while MBIE has taken several steps to address the safety issues, consultation is vital to mitigating risk as much as possible. 

"MBIE is seeking feedback on the nature and scale of the problem, the options, benefits, costs and other impacts of the options, and implementation," she said. 

"Feedback will be used to inform MBIE's policy development process and advice to Ministers on addressing risks from corded window coverings."

Potential regulation could include corded blinds requiring safety devices or high-risk blinds being banned. 

Window Treatments managing director Graeme Rose told AM on Friday tightening up regulations is a no-brainer. 

Rose said the risks of corded blinds have been known for at least 20 years and the industry supports the changes. 

"I certainly am very aware of the issue and we took measures many years ago to ensure we didn't present that same risk to our customers and the children," Rose told AM's Melissa Chan-Green. "So I think it's certainly time [for regulation] and I'm all in favour of changes." 

Rose said while some blinds, such as Roman blinds, are harder to make safe, for others simple fixes can make a big difference. 

"Products like roller blinds generally have a looped control that can be easily shortened so it's out of the reach of children or indeed they could install a very cheap cord tidy which is just a device that holds the cord against the window frame."

He added the Government could look at offering free cord tidies to households at very little expense, but most families can also buy them themselves without much stress. 

"The solution for some of the products is very, very easy and cheap to do. If the Government was providing a $5 cord tidy in the bedroom of the toddler, I think it would be a great help. Alternatively naturally parents want their children to be safe so they could also take the initiative and just go online and buy one of these devices."

Rose said while he can't speak for others, his business does not and has never sold Roman Blinds with cords in the back because he believes it's not worth the risk. 

Calls for regulation on corded blinds began as early as March 2021 when Coroner Mary-Anne Borrowdale released a damning report calling for action to prevent more "avoidable deaths". In her report, Borrowdale slammed MBIE's approach thus far, saying it needed to make it a priority to get the Minister of Consumer Affairs David Clark to declare "prescriptive mandatory regulations".

Borrowdale's recommendations were part of her report on the death of a 19-month-old baby who died from accidental asphyxiation from a Roman blind cord.