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From Products Liability Law Daily, October 19, 2015

Proposed infant bouncer seats standard targets in falls from elevated surfaces & unrestrained infants

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

A safety standard for infant bouncer seats based on the most recent voluntary standard developed by ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials), ASTM F2167–15, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Infant Bouncer Seats (‘‘ASTM F2167–15’’) has been proposed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). However, the agency has proposed specific modifications to the ASTM standard in order to improve and strengthen the requirements for on-product warnings and the instructional materials provided with bouncer seats. The modifications are designed to guard against falls from seats placed on elevated surfaces or when infants are placed unrestrained into a bouncer seat. Comments on the proposed safety standard are due by January 4, 2016 (CPSC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 80 FR 63168, October 19, 2015).

Background. The Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), requires the CPSC to promulgate consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products. These standards are to be ‘‘substantially the same as’’ applicable voluntary standards or more stringent than the voluntary standard, if the Commission determines that more stringent requirements would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product. Pursuant to these statutory mandates, CPSC consulted with manufacturers, retailers, trade organizations, laboratories, consumer advocacy groups, consultants, and members of the public in the development of this notice of proposed rulemaking largely through the ASTM process.

Voluntary standard assessment. CPSC staff examined the relationship between the performance requirements in ASTM F2167–15 and each of the hazard patterns the staff had identified, which are detailed in the NOPR. Based on the staff’s assessment, CPSC concluded that ASTM F2167–15 adequately addresses the mechanical hazard patterns, structural integrity stability chemical/electrical hazards identified in the incident data associated with bouncer seats. As a result of the staff’s findings, CPSC proposed incorporating the ASTM standard by reference. However, the Commission proposed a number of modifications to the warning label requirements to increase effectiveness aimed at changing caregiver behavior in order to further reduce the risk of injury to infants from falls when the seats are placed on elevated surfaces.

Proposed modifications. CPSC proposed the following changes to the location and format of the warning label placed to address the fall hazard:

  • Require that the fall hazard label be located on the front surface of the bouncer adjacent to the area where the child’s head would rest, and modify the current visibility test to reflect this requirement; and

  • Specify a standard format (including black text on a white background, table design, bullet points, and black border) for the warnings on the product and in the instructions.

CPSC also proposed the following modifications to the content of ASTM F2167–15’s warnings and instructions with regard to use of required restraints:

  • Add text to the warnings that states to use the restraints “. . . even if baby is sleeping . . .”;

  • Change the text in the warnings to read, “stop using when baby starts trying to sit up”; and

  • Change the developmental guidance in the instructions, if stated, to read, “from birth (or ‘‘0’’) until baby starts trying to sit up.”

MainStory: TopStory BabyProductsNews ChildrensProductsNews

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