A Widnes trader, in a case brought by Halton Borough Council’s Trading Standards, has been prosecuted for selling and fitting unsafe window blinds, which posed a strangulation risk for children.
Graeme Murray trading as Premier Blinds of Everite Road Industrial Estate, Westgate, Widnes pleaded guilty to six offences under the General Product Safety Regulations of supplying and installing dangerous blinds with looped blind cords which posed a strangulation risk.
The blinds had been fitted within customers’ homes.
Murray was given a two year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £500 towards the prosecution costs.
European safety standards limit the length of blinds cords due to the tragic deaths of young children who have been strangled by them. For blinds fitted by an installer the safety standards require that looped cords with no breakaway device should not hang below 1.5 metres from floor level but in this case the cords were inspected by an independent expert who found them to fall considerably lower and pose a danger to young children.
Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board Member for Trading Standards, Cllr Dave Cargill, said: “Toddlers and young children are invariably active and inquisitive – a low hanging looped blind cord can become a noose within seconds, no matter how well the child is supervised.
“I urge parents and all households where young children visit and play to follow the advice below to make sure their blinds are safe.”
Sheila Merrill, public health adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “RoSPA is now aware of at least 30 child deaths across the UK due to looped cords since 1999 (17 of which have occurred since the start of 2010) and fully supports any actions taken by enforcing authorities to ensure that the updated standards are adhered to.
“RoSPA suggests that if you are buying new blinds, look for ones without looped cords, especially if it is for a child’s bedroom. We also urge parents, grandparents and carers not to place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window and only install blinds that do not have a cord.”
The Make it Safe website contains information for consumers on how to safely choose blinds and also of ways to make older blinds safer by installing devices such as cleats and tensioners. More information can be found on www.makeitsafe.org.uk.
A spokesman from the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) said; ‘The child safety requirements of window blinds were fundamentally changed in February 2014 with the publication of new British Standards so it is shocking to learn of a company not fitting compliant products some three years later.
The British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) supports any surveillance and enforcement action by Trading Standards to ensure all traders are aware of, and compliant with, their child safety responsibilities.’
Any concerns about the safety of blind cords recently fitted by traders can be reported to trading standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.