Products Liability Law Daily CPSC issues safety standard for booster seats
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Monday, July 9, 2018

CPSC issues safety standard for booster seats

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a final rule establishing a safety standard for booster seats and amending its regulations regarding third-party conformity assessment bodies to include the safety standard for booster seats in the list of notices of requirements (NORs). The final rule will become effective January 2, 2020 (CPSC Final Rule, 83 FR 30837, July 2, 2018).

Section 104(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), also known as the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, requires CPSC to examine and assess the effectiveness of voluntary consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products and promulgate consumer product safety standards for these products that are either substantially the same as the applicable voluntary standards or more stringent, if CPSC determines that a more stringent standard would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product. Section 104(f)(2)(C) of the CPSIA specifically identifies "booster chairs" as a durable infant or toddler product, and CPSC’s regulation requiring product registration cards defines "booster seats" as a durable infant or toddler product subject to the registration card rule.

Proposed rule and new voluntary standard. In May 2017, CPSC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) for booster seats (82 FR 22925) that proposed to incorporate by reference the voluntary standard, without modification, developed by ASTM International, ASTM F2640–17, Standard Consumer SafetySpecification for Booster Seats. Since that time, ASTM approved and published the current version of the voluntary standard for booster seats, ASTM F2640–18, Standard ConsumerSafety Specification for Booster Seats (April 2018), with three changes from the previous version. The modifications include: new performance and testing requirements for a new type of booster seat that hangs from the back of an adult chair; clarification of the installation position for measuring a booster seat on an adult chair; and a new warning statement in the instructional literature to address booster seats that do not have a reclined position. CPSC determined that each of these changes enhances the safety of booster seats.

ASTM F2640–18 defines a "booster seat" as "a juvenile chair, which is placed on an adult chair to elevate a child to standard dining table height. The booster seat is made for the purpose of containing a child, up to 5 years of age, and normally for the purposes of feeding or eating. A booster seat may be height adjustable and include a reclined position." Booster seats may be constructed from a wide variety of materials, including wood, plastic, fabric, metal, and/or foam. Most booster seats, notably those intended for home use, have removable trays, allowing a table to be used as an alternative eating surface. Some booster seats are intended to double as floor seats for toddlers, and others are high chair/booster seat combination products. The ASTM standard covers combination products when they are in their booster seat configuration. There is no exclusion for food-service booster seats, and ASTM subcommittee members have stated in several subcommittee meetings that food-service booster seats are included in the standard; however, car booster seats are not covered by the standard.

CPSC is aware of a total of 912 incidents (2 fatal and 152 nonfatal injuries) related to booster seats reported to have occurred from January 1, 2008, through October 31, 2017. Hazard patterns associated with booster seats include restraint/attachment problems; seat-related issues; tray-related issues; design problems; stability-related issues; and armrest problems. Between January 1, 2008, and May 30, 2018, two consumer-level recalls involved booster seats. Both recalls involved a fall hazard—one was associated with the loosening of the stitching on the booster seat’s restraint straps, and one stemmed from a malfunctioning restraint buckle.

Final rule. The final rule, which incorporates the most recent version of the voluntary standard without modification, is intended to minimize the risk of injury or death to infants associated with falls from booster seats, tipping over or out of booster seats, restraint disengagement or lack of a restraint system, tray disengagement, booster seat stability while attached to an adult chair, entrapments in booster seats, and other hazards such as cuts, bruises, and lacerations. The standard includes performance requirements and test methods such as the tray impact test, the tray engagement test, the static load test, the restraint system test, the seat attachment test, maximum booster seat dimensions, and marking and labeling requirements.

The new mandatory safety standard also amends Requirements Pertaining to Third Party Conformity Assessment Bodies (78 FR 15836, March 2013), which is codified at 16 CFR part 1112, to include the safety standard for booster seats in the list of other children’s product safety rules for which CPSC has issued NORs. Laboratories applying for acceptance as a CPSC-accepted third-party conformity assessment body to test to the new standard for booster seats are required to meet the third-party conformity assessment body accreditation requirements in part 1112. When a laboratory meets the requirements as a CPSC-accepted third-party conformity assessment body, the laboratory can apply to CPSC to have 16 CFR part 1237, Safety Standard for Booster Seats,included in its scope of accreditation of CPSC safety rules listed for the laboratory on the CPSC website.

MainStory: TopStory FinalRules BabyProductsNews ChildrensProductsNews

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