Products Liability Law Daily CPSC revises sling carrier regulation to reflect updated ASTM standard
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Monday, April 20, 2020

CPSC revises sling carrier regulation to reflect updated ASTM standard

By Georgia D. Koutouzos, J.D.

Amendments address products marketed for use by two occupants and/or carrying more than 35 pounds.

A Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) direct final rule revising the mandatory standard for sling carriers was issued by the agency in order to incorporate by reference the updated version of the ASTM standard F2907–19, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Sling Carriers, while retaining the additional requirement for warning label attachment. The rule will take effect on July 6, 2020, unless CPSC receives any significant adverse comments by May 20, 2020 (CPSC Direct Final Rule, 85 FR 21766, April 20, 2020).

Infant sling carriers are worn by parents or caregivers and are designed to carry infants and toddlers between eight and 35 pounds. Slings can pose suffocation hazards for babies as well as fall hazards for infants and toddlers. In January 2017, CPSC published a consumer product safety standard for sling carriers under section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) which incorporated by reference the ASTM voluntary standard in effect for sling carriers at that time [see Products Liability Law Daily’s January 30, 2017 analysis and February 2, 2018 analysis]. On January 8, 2020, the Commission received notification from ASTM that it had updated the sling carrier standard to, among other things, revise the requirements for test methods, labeling, and instructional literature to address hazards to children associated with sling carriers.

Specifically, the revised ASTM standard speaks to two considerations in the way sling carriers are marketed and used: (1) the use of sling carriers for two occupants (rather than one); and (2) sling carriers that are marketed to carry more than the existing test weight of 35 pounds. ASTM F2907–19 also includes several revisions to clarify existing requirements, as well as editorial revisions that do not alter the substantive requirements or affect safety, CPSC said. Under the requirements, sling carriers must undergo testing that simulates the conditions under which they are marketed to be used and actually are used. Because testing sling carriers under their actual use conditions more accurately assesses their durability, the Commission concluded that the revised standard improves the safety of these devices.

ASTM F2907–19 requires sling carriers that are marketed for two occupants to undergo the same testing as single-occupant products, but with the added conditions associated with two occupants. Although the CPSC staff is not aware of any incidents that involve multiple occupants in a single sling carrier, it believes that the revised standard provides better safety than excluding two-occupant slings from the standard or testing them under the conditions associated with a single occupant. Similarly, ASTM F2907–19’s mandate that sling carriers marketed to carry more than 35 pounds be tested with the marketed maximum weight provides better safety than testing sling carriers with 35-pound weights when they are marketed as supporting more than that amount.

Under the process set out in section 104(b)(4)(B) of the CPSIA, when ASTM revises a standard that the Commission has previously incorporated by reference under section 104(b)(1)(B) of the CPSIA, that revision will become the new CPSC standard, unless the Commission determines that ASTM’s revision does not improve the safety of the product. Consistent with that process, the direct final rule revises the mandatory standard for sling carriers to incorporate by reference the updated version of the ASTM standard.

Unless CPSC receives a significant adverse comment within 30 days of the notification of the direct final rule, the rule will become effective on July 6, 2020. Comments [referencing Docket No. CPSC–2014–0018] should be submitted by May 20, 2020, via the federal eRulemaking portal at: https://www.regulations.gov or by regular mail to: Division of the Secretariat, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 820, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814.

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