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30-Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode Seven / Cord Safety Testing Results

In episode 5 of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech, which aired on December 12, 2018, Ceil DiGuglialmo and Susan Woodcock talked about the revisions to the cord safety standards. During the podcast, Susan shared that she had sent shades to an independent testing facility and would follow up with the results.  Susan shares what she learned in this episode of the podcast.

Use this link to listen to the podcast: Thirty Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode 7 

If you missed episode five, be sure to review that before listening to episode seven, using this link: Update to Cord Safety Standards Information from Episode 5

Safety compliant Roman shade with bead chain loop

Why Submit Roman Shades for Independent Testing

The goal of certified testing was to confirm that the shade methods taught at Workroom Tech, and that Susan uses in her workroom, are compliant. The Cord Safety Standards are confusing.  The only way to know for certain was to submit shades for testing.

The Results

Two styles of shades were tested;  a shade made with the RBS clutch headrail system with bead chain loop, and lift cords with ladder tape; and a shade made with screw eyes, cord condenser, cord cleat and lift cords with ladder tape.

The testing facility issued a pass or fail rating for each evaluation.  It’s not just “the shade passed or failed”.  Each shade had up to 13 unique tests performed.  Both shades passed testing for cords, shrouds, tension device, operating systems, packaging and labeling.  Only one test failed, and that was for one incorrect warning tag. This information shows the importance of knowing which tags are current, and which warning tags are outdated but still might be available for sale for industry suppliers.

When ordering warning tags, look for the current testing standard which is labeled as ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2018, followed by the specific section of the standard for that evaluation.  For example, the labels below are for "all accessible operating cords" (section 5.2.1), and "tension device" warning tag (5.2.2)

Current warning tags will include ANSI/WCMA A100.1-18

Results for Roman Shade with Bead Chain Loop

The other tests that were performed and received a pass rating were for the basic function of the shade; cord loop operation and tension device; and installation instructions. 

The other warning tag and labels passed the testing standard: operational cords warning tag, and the manufacturer label.

  • See an example of how you can make your own manufacturer label on the Workroom Tech blog post from episode 5 of the podcast here.

Based on the testing results, you will need to include the following labels on shades made with a bead chain or cord loop, and lift cords with shroud (the sample tested used ladder tape)

ANSI/WCMA A100-1-18 Sec. 5.2.1 All Accessible Operating Cords Warning Tag: attach to bottom of inner cord at shade hem

ANSI/WCMA A100-1-18 Sec. 5.2.2 Tension Device Warning Tag: attach to bead chain loop or cord, or tension device

ANSI/WCMA A100.1-18 Sec. 5.3 Manufacturer Label: attach to headrail or roller tube

Results for Romans Shade with Screw Eyes and Cord Cleat

For this style of shade, Susan shared that she used cord shroud, in this case ladder tape, on the inner cords. Other shrouds, like shroud tube or Safe-T-Shade Ring-Locks would also be acceptable. The cord exits the shroud and runs through screw eyes under the board.

The cord needs to be fixed when the shade is in the fully down position, so it can’t be pulled down and away at the bottom. A cord condenser was used and placed right next to the screw eye at the side of the shade.  The operating cord, or the cord hanging below the cord condenser passed testing. It was at the acceptable length of 40% or less than the finished length of the shade.

Roman shade with screw eyes and a cord condenser

A cord cleat with installation instructions detailing how it is to be mounted and used was also part of the testing, and received a passing grade.  For long shades, two cord cleats are required to be sent with the shade, and the instructions should include information for using two cleats, which are spaced apart allowing for longer cords to be wrapped around completely. 

For this style of shade, the following labels are needed: 

ANSI/WCMA A100-1-18 Sec. 5.2.1 All Accessible Operating Cords Warning Tag: to cord above condenser or bead

ANSI/WCMA A100.1-18 Sec. 5.3 Manufacturer Label: attach to mount board

Susan shared in the podcast that "as a custom shade manufacturer, the standards recognize that you will have more contact with the homeowner and can educate them in person about the dangers of free hanging cords.  She added, "this style of shade isn’t for everybody, but it is good to know that it is an option for custom workrooms, and that those who are still fabricating shades this way can make them compliant."

Cord Locks

Susan prefers not to use cord locks because homeowners would not need to use the cord cleat, which leaves cords dangling at the side of the shade and not restrained.  She did not send a shade with a cord lock for testing.

Who Enforces the Standards

The Consumer Products Safety Commission enforces the standards. After the last podcast, Susan heard rumors in the industry about what could happen if there was an incident.  In response to rumors she emphasized that, "we can't know what the enforcement actions would be.  For stock products, I can see how a recall would be the proper action to remove unsafe products from the shelf.  That is a common action for cribs, toys, car seats, and other products."  In addition, Susan recommends that small businesses follow cord safety standards, have liability insurance, and set up their company to protect personal assets.

Best Practice

The information shared is intended to educate workrooms and designers about the cord safety standards for custom products.  It is not a recommendation of one system over another.  It is always best practice to sell cord free window coverings. To learn how to fabricate Roman shades, see the upcoming class schedule at Workroom Tech.


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