Products Liability Law Daily CPSC Chairman and Commissioners issue warning against use of padded crib bumpers
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Friday, November 4, 2016

CPSC Chairman and Commissioners issue warning against use of padded crib bumpers

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye and Commissioners Robert S. Adler, Marietta S. Robinson, and Joseph P. Mohorovic strongly advised the American public to stop using padded crib bumpers, warning that the bedding accessories intended to line the sides of an infant’s crib are nothing more than "deadly clutter." The joint statement outlined the officials’ disagreement with the approach and conclusions expressed in 2013 and 2016 CPSC staff briefing packages regarding both the risk of injury and death associated with padded crib bumpers and the addressability of those risks. Instead, on October 19, 2016, the Commission voted to add to its Fiscal Year 2017 Operating Plan a direction to CPSC staff to initiate rulemaking under section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) to address the risk of injury or death associated with the use of crib bumpers (CPSC Joint Statement on Crib Bumpers, November 3, 2016).

Previous Commission action. The current ASTM voluntary standard that covers crib bumpers, ASTM F1917-12 (Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Infant Bedding and Related Accessories), limits the thickness of a padded crib bumper to approximately two inches or thinner and requires warning labels that address a risk of suffocation, sagging, strangulation on ties, and removal of the bumper when a child can sit up unaided or can pull to a standing position. In a petition to CPSC dated May 9, 2012, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) requested that the Commission initiate a rulemaking to regulate crib bumpers by distinguishing between "hazardous pillow-like" crib bumpers and "non-hazardous traditional" crib bumpers. The Commission published a Federal Register notice requesting comments on the petition (77 FR 37836, June 25, 2012) and, in a subsequent briefing package on that petition, CPSC staff concluded that "[s]ome evidence suggests that crib bumpers may increase the risks present in unsafe sleep settings" and recommended that the Commission grant the petition and direct CPSC staff to initiate rulemaking.

On May 24, 2013, the Commission voted to grant the petition and directed CPSC staff to initiate rulemaking to address the risk of injury associated with the use of crib bumpers and to provide the Commission with a second briefing package. That briefing package, which CPSC staff presented on September 12, 2016, identified 107 fatal and 282 non-fatal incidents that were reported to CPSC from January 1, 1990, to March 31, 2016, in which a crib bumper was present in the sleep environment. Of the fatal incidents, CPSC staff concluded that: in 31 cases, the crib bumper was "incidental" to the fatality because there was "no evidence of bumper contact or involvement;" in five cases, the bumper contact occurred outside a crib; and in 41 cases, entrapment or wedging occurred between the bumper and another object inside the crib. Based on these classifications, CPSC staff concluded: 72 of the reported fatalities were "unlikely to be addressable by Commission action;" nine of the reported fatalities were "likely to be addressable to some degree;" and 26 of the reported fatalities "lacked sufficient details to determine whether the crib bumper contributed to the fatality."

Chairman and Commissioners’ response. Chairman Kaye and Commissioners Adler, Robinson, and Mohorovic disagreed with approach and conclusions in both the 2013 and the 2016 briefing packages and expressed their belief that there is a clear risk of injury or death associated with padded crib bumpers. They further opined that there are multiple hazard patterns associated with padded crib bumpers that are addressable, including limited space on the mattress inside of the crib; crib bumpers that cover or otherwise conceal key failure points on the crib; incorrectly installed crib bumpers; the use of crib bumpers with children who are past the recommended age; the use of crib bumpers outside of the crib; and mixed messages about padded objects in a crib. The Chairman and Commissioners strongly admonished all parents and caregivers not to use padded crib bumpers and, instead, provide for their children a properly assembled crib with only an appropriately-sized mattress and a snugly fitted sheet. Additionally, the officials advised the public never to place soft bedding or other padded objects such as padded bumpers, pillows, sleep positioners, stuffed animals, or cushions in a child’s crib, bassinet, or play yard.

MainStory: TopStory BabyProductsNews

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