CPA of Health Canada reminding us of corded window coverings.


*Dear Lisa,

I work for Consumer Product Safety (CPS) of Health Canada, and I am
contacting the you to discuss an initiative to disseminate safety
information to Canadian Home Inspectors, such that they may educate home
buyers. Below, I outline what CPS is, the issue of concern, and a
suggestion for your consideration and comment.

CPS administers and enforces the Hazardous Products Act, which specifies
restrictions and prohibitions on a range of consumer products. Children
are especially vulnerable, and therefore many of our endeavours are to
protect the health and safety of this section of the population. CPS also
monitors and takes action on non-regulated products of concern, such as
corded window coverings.

Corded window coverings, such as mini-blinds, pose a potential
strangulation hazard to children. Since 1986, Health Canada has received
reports of 24 strangulation deaths linked to corded window covering
products, with 7 deaths having occurred in the last 5 years. Additionally,
since 1986, 21 injuries and near-miss incidents linked to these products
have also been brought to the attention of the Department. Young children
who range in age from 10 months to 4 years old are most often involved in
window covering cord incidents. The majority of events occur when young
children have been placed in a crib or bed that has been positioned near a
window, and the child becomes entangled in the window covering cord. By
the time a caregiver checks on the child, it is often too late to prevent
injury or death. The second most common incident scenario involves young
children climbing on furniture that has been placed near a window, and
subsequently the child becomes entangled in the window covering cords. The
weight of the child causes the cord to act as a noose - resulting in

Window coverings are often included in the sale of a property, because
these products are often specifically formatted for specific window sizes.
We recognize that Home Inspectors are in a position to advise home buyers
of this potential hazard when selling homes that are fitted with corded
window coverings. The same can be said for homes sold without window
coverings, as these products are popular additions to a new home once

CPS has designed education and information materials to educate parents,
caregivers, child safety organizations, and public health organizations.
Our message is that all cords on window coverings be kept out of reach of
children, and we have published posters, pamphlets, window cling reminders,
and a safety demonstration video to enforce this message, and demonstrate
how this can be accomplished. These tools can easily be ordered free of
charge from the Health Canada website or by phone. These tools can assist
Home Inspectors in educating home buyers of the potential hazards. For
example, the pamphlet could be included in the binder that the Home
Inspector provides to the buyer. The pamphlet describes how to keep the
cords out of reach and includes the web address and phone number where more
information can be obtained. Home Inspectors could order - free of charge
- copies of this brochure at their convenience.

Perhaps there is a newsletter or other means of communication with the
members of NACHI, through which this information can be made available to

All of the educational material can be found on the Health Canada website

Please find my co-ordinates below, and I look forward to hearing from you
to discuss this further.


Shannon Whittle
Project Officer / Agent de projets
Mechanical & Electrical Hazards Division / Division de la mécanique et de
Consumer Product Safety Bureau / Bureau de la sécurité des produits de
Health Canada / Santé Canada
t: 613-952-6260 f: 613-952-9138

Well a noble cause perhaps, as home inspectors we enter a dangerous liability area. If we make note of these blinds, while missing something else safety related we may find our selves liable.

What specific roles are or should we be taking on as inspectors. As we all know this industry is fraught with high liability. Are E&O providers going to cover inspectors for failing to mention such items in the standard performance of inspecting? This would appear to be an issue that is above and beyond the SOP’s.

I agree Raymond. Where does it end? Are we liable because we did not identify that the cap ( of cap and band carpet treatment of stairs) is very thick and presents a tripping problem, or the little weight on the end of the chain that operates the ceiling fan is low enough to strike an eye, or the area rug does not have an ant-slip mat under it and could slide out from under foot?

If we get into the business of identifying possible safety hazards are we not then legally responsible for identifying ALL of them and liable if we don’t? Make no mistake. I too identify obvious safety hazards like most inspectors, but the question remains; " Where does our responsibility ( liability) end?"

I would think that if there is a need to notify the public of these safety issues, the Gov’t body should supply brouchures of these issues and give them to active inspectors to put into their report binders. This puts the onus on the buyer rather then the inspector.
I agree with both Ray and George that we can’t be responsible for what might happen. Only report obvious safety concerns as found at the ime of inspection.


Isn’t that what they just did. They contacted a home inspection organization to get the word out about the dangers and they supplied a link through which you can order the literature to include with your report.

Call 1-866-662-0666 and order Cat No.: 0-662-68923-2 or you download it in a digital format.

Why should it be on our backs?

I won’t be taking part in this effort thats for sure.

Are we also suppose to be now telling homeowners about the energy flourescent light bulbs that may create a fire hazard? Whats next? Telling people that voting Liberal is hazardous to your wallet? :wink:

The Government it selves does not even try to get info out to the public properly on recalls… Roy Cooke
Olive recall shows that system can be the pits - News - Olive recall shows that system can be the pits
No way to ensure everyone hears about recalls before shelves cleared

April 22, 2007
**Andrew Chung
**Staff Reporter
There’s a problem with some brands of Italian olives, but because of limitations in the food-recall process, you may not know it.
In recent weeks, some customers who felt the olives they bought were slightly off returned them to their grocery stores only to discover the olives had been recalled. They also learned the olives posed a risk for botulism, a serious bacterial illness.
The case highlights what many see as a missing link in Canada’s food-recall process, one that lets everyone know what’s going on – except the consumer.
“There is some inherent limitation there,” says Davendra Sharma, recall specialist with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is responsible for investigations and recalls.
The CFIA relies on the media to spread the word about recalls but, with an average of one recall per day in Canada, not every one is covered.
Last month, the CFIA issued an alert for a brand of imported olives, Marcella’s Garden, from Toronto’s Excelsior Foods Inc. There was some television coverage, but no newspaper story.
A week later, there was virtually no media coverage when the recall was expanded to include Saroli, Borrelli, Bonta di Puglia, and Tre Monti – from the Italian manufacturer Charlie Brown di Rutigliano & Figli.
Communication is “a well-oiled machine” between the authorities, distributors and stores, says Nick Jennery, president of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, which represents large chains like Loblaws and Sobey’s.
Once the CFIA requests a recall, the distributor must inform all the stores selling the product and stores pull the product from shelves. At store level, getting the product off the shelves is “the first priority,” Jennery says.
But how is the consumer who has already purchased the recalled product to know about the olive menace in the fridge?
There’s no requirement for retailers to post recall information in their stores. The CFIA says it cannot compel them because the regulation of retail space is a provincial matter.
“It is a gap,” concedes Bruce Cran of the Canadian Consumers Association. "Someone buys something and then a recall happens and they don’t know about it.
“We’ve suggested for years there should be public displays, more bulletin boards and more identifiable information about recalls.”
The CFIA notes less than one-third of recalls are Class 1 recalls, meaning they pose a high risk to human health.
Posting notices about all recalls could be time consuming, says Gary Sands, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, which represents smaller grocery retailers. But he doesn’t rule out the idea entirely.
"I think on the Class 1 recalls, that’s something we would be prepared to look at and talk to our members about.
“On issues of food safety, if that’s a way of staying ahead of the curve, we’d support it.”
The Charlie Brown olives were first identified as potentially hazardous in the United States in early March, when the Federal Drug Administration issued recalls.
The CFIA did its own testing and found that the olives were not acidic enough, creating conditions whereby clostridium bacteria could produce the botulism toxin.
No one has fallen ill, but botulism can cause weakness, dizziness, nausea, and even paralysis or death.