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From Products Liability Law Daily, August 19, 2013

CPSC amends standard to address play yard bassinet accessory misassembly hazards

By Joseph Bichl

Prompted by the death of an infant due to a misassembled play yard bassinet accessory, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) amended the mandatory play yard standard to address the hazards associated with play yard bassinet accessories that can be assembled without key structural elements (CPSC Final Rule, 78 FR 50328, August 19, 2013).

Background. In August 2011, CPSC received a report of an infant fatality that occurred in the bassinet accessory of a play yard. The child died when the sleeping surface of the bassinet tilted, causing the child to slip into the corner of the bassinet accessory, where she suffocated. The report determined that two of the bassinet accessory’s four sides to the play yard rails were omitted during assembly. The other two sides were attached with plastic clips. After the infant was left to sleep, one of the plastic clips that attached the bassinet accessory to the play yard detached and, because the support rods were not in place to secure the bassinet accessory, the bassinet sleep surface tilted, and the infant slid into the corner of the tilted bassinet accessory where she suffocated.

Notice of proposed rulemaking. On August 29, 2012, the Commission published a final rule (77 FR 52220) to establish a mandatory safety standard for play yards which incorporated by reference an ASTM voluntary standard, ASTM F406–12a, “Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Non-Full-Size Baby Cribs/Play Yards.” However, the final rule did not address the hazards associated with the use of play yard bassinet accessories that can be assembled missing key structural elements. On the same date, the Commission published a notice of proposed rulemaking proposing (NPR) an addition to the play yard mandatory standard to address these hazards.

CPSC explained in its NPR (77 FR 52272) that bassinet accessories are unique among play yard accessories because they are intended to be used as a sleeping environment, and infants are meant to be left unsupervised in them for extended periods of time. Serious injuries or fatalities can result if a play yard bassinet accessory is assembled without key structural elements, such as rods, tubes, bars, and hooks, which keep the sleep surface flat and level. Under the proposal, CPSC offered manufacturers two compliance options: (1) manufacturers could attach all key structural elements permanently to the bassinet shell, or, (2) if a manufacturer chose not to attach these elements, the bassinet would have to be tested by a method called a ‘‘catastrophic failure test.’’ The requirement is meant to ensure that the omission of a key structural element would be so visually obvious that the consumer would not use the product and place a child in danger inadvertently.

Final rule. Today’s final rule incorporates by reference the most recent version of ASTM’s play yard standard (ASTM F 406–13.) By referencing this newer version of the ASTM standard, CPSC’s safety standard now addresses the hazards posed by misassembly of play yard bassinet accessories in substantially the same manner as the Commission proposed in the 2012 NPR. The final rule continues to exclude from the CPSC’s play yard standard the provisions in ASTM F406 that apply to non-full-size cribs. CPSC has a separate standard for non-full-size cribs (16 CFR Part 1220).

This rule will become effective on February 19, 2014 and will apply to all play yards manufactured or imported on or after that date.

MainStory: TopStory FinalRules BabyProductsNews

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