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From Products Liability Law Daily, December 9, 2013

CPSC updates standards for infant bath seats, toddler beds, full-size cribs

By Joe Bichl

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has revised the safety standards for infant bath seats, toddler beds, and full-size cribs, in accordance with Public Law 112–28, which established a process for updating standards that CPSC issued under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). Today’s direct final rule incorporates by reference more recent versions of ASTM voluntary standards (CPSC Direct Final Rule78 FR 73692, December 9, 2013).

Background. The Consumer Product Improvement Act of 2008 directed CPSC to promulgate consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products. The law required the standards to be ‘‘substantially the same as’’ applicable voluntary standards or more stringent than the voluntary standards if the Commission concluded that more stringent requirements were necessary to further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product. Under the law, the term ‘‘durable infant or toddler product’’ included infant bath seats, toddler beds, and full-size cribs.

In 2011, Congress enacted Public Law 112–28, amending the CPSIA and creating a process whereby CPSC could update its durable infant or toddler standards when a voluntary standard group changes a voluntary standard on which the CPSC standard was based.

ASTM revisions. On September 25, 2013, ASTM notified CPSC that it had revised ASTM F1967, Standard Consumer Specification for Infant Bath Seats; ASTM F1821, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toddler Beds; and ASTM F1169, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Full-Size Baby Cribs. In the notification, ASTM stated that it had revised these standards since CPSC adopted the earlier versions of the standards as CPSC mandatory standards.

For its part, CPSC accepted the following ASTM revisions and today’s direct final rule revises the incorporation by reference to reflect the revised versions of the ASTM standards:

Infant Bath Seats. The new ASTM version (ASTM F1967–13) revises its infant bath seat standard by creating a new definition and requirement for attachment components; removing an obsolete provision from the definition of a bath seat/restraints systems; specifying to third-party testing laboratories that bath seats be tested for stability on two specific test surfaces (rather than one); clarifying two requirements for testing bath seats that use suction cups; and making minor changes to labeling requirements. CPSC staff’s opinion is that the new requirement for attachment components and the change to the test surface preparation provision will improve the safety of the bath seats.

Toddler beds. The new ASTM version (ASTM F1821–13) contains 12 significant changes from its earlier standards. Under CPSC’s assessment, the new version brings the ASTM standard into accord with CPSC’s mandatory standard for toddler beds at 16 CFR part 1217. CPSC had found that previous ASTM versions did not improve the safety of toddler beds. For instance, in version F1821–11b, the agency concluded that the guardrail height and strength were less stringent than the CPSC’s existing standard.

Full-size cribs. The revised standard, ASTM F1169–13, provides an exception so that a crib’s failure to meet the slat spacing requirement under certain testing circumstances would not cause the crib to be considered noncompliant. For example, in ASTM’s previous version, the specific testing procedure for slats allowed for one slat to fail during testing if the load at failure was at least 60 pounds and an additional 25 percent of the slats were tested and met the 80-pound force requirement. In such a case, a tested crib potentially could comply with the specific testing procedures for slats even if a slat failed during testing, but not meet the general slat spacing requirements because of the failed slat. According to CPSC’s assessment, the latest ASTM revision removes an unintended inconsistency.

Comments. The rule is effective on March 24, 2014, unless CPSC receives “significant adverse comment” by January 8, 2014. CPSC indicated that if it receives such comments, it will publish notification in the Federal Register, withdrawing today’s direct final rule before its effective date.

MainStory: TopStory FinalRules CPSCNewsStory BabyProductsNews

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