Products Liability Law Daily CPSC updates safety standards for baby changing products
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

CPSC updates safety standards for baby changing products

By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a final rule updating the existing safety standard for baby changing products to incorporate by reference ASTM F2388–18, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Baby Changing Tables for Domestic Use (ASTM F2388–18). The final rule also imposes more stringent requirements for structural integrity, restraint system integrity, and warnings on labels and in instructional literature and revises the list of notice of requirements (NORs) in 16 CFR part 1112 to include the standard for baby changing products. The rule will become effective on June 26, 2019. (CPSC Final Rule83 FR 29672, June 26, 2018).

The Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, Section 104(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), requires CPSC to issue consumer product safety standards for durable infant or toddler products. The agency has approved new federal safety standards for several durable infant or toddler products, including full-size cribs, non-full-size cribs, play yards, baby walkers, baby bath seats, children’s portable bed rails, strollers, toddler beds, infant swings, handheld infant carriers, soft infant carriers, framed infant carriers, bassinets, cradles, portable hook-on chairs, infant sling carriers, and infant bouncer seats.

Reported injuries. According to CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), there were 188 reports of incidents involving baby changing products that occurred between January 2005 and November 2017. These incidents involved seven fatalities, 31 injuries or adverse health problems, 116 incidents that did not result in injuries, and 34 incidents for which sufficient information was not provided to determine if an injury occurred. Most of the fatalities involved suffocation or asphyxia when babies were sleeping on baby changing products. The non-fatal injuries were generally caused by falls or collapse of the baby changing product. The most commonly injured body parts were the head and face and the typical injuries included injuries to internal organs, contusions and abrasions, and fractures.

Proposed rulemaking and revised voluntary standard. On September 29, 2016, CPSC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) that proposed incorporating by reference the then current voluntary standard for baby changing products, ASTM F2388–16, with more stringent requirements for structural integrity, restraint system integrity, and warnings on labels and in instructional literature [see Products Liability Law Daily’s September 29, 2016 analysis]. Following CPSC’s issuance of the NPR, ASTM revised the voluntary standard several times and published the current version of the standard, ASTM F2388–18, in March 2018.

ASTM F2388–18. For the most part, the requirements in ASTM F2388–18 are the same as those that CPSC proposed incorporating by reference from ASTM F2388–16 in the NPR—including the same scope, definitions, general requirements, performance requirements, and test methods. ASTM F2388–18 also includes modifications to reflect the more stringent requirements that CPSC proposed in the NPR to address comments filed in response to the NPR, and to provide additional detail and clarity. For example, ASTM F2388–18 includes six definitions that were not in ASTM F2388–16, two of which are consistent with definitions that CPSC had proposed. In the NPR, CPSC offered proposed definitions for "key structural elements" and "non-rigid add-on changing unit accessory," which ASTM F2388–18 has included, but uses the term "changing table accessory" instead of "non-rigid add-on changing unit accessory." ASTM F2388–18 also defines the terms "changing product," "protective component," "secondary support component," and "threaded fastener," all of which CPSC agreed were appropriate and provided additional clarity.

Further, ASTM F2388–18 requires baby changing products to be designed to prevent injuries from scissoring, shearing, or pinching, and includes a method of assessing compliance with this requirement. Although ASTM F2388–16 did not include requirements regarding scissoring, shearing, and pinching, and CPSC did not propose additional requirements to address these hazards in the NPR, CPSC stated in the final rule that these requirements are appropriate in light of other durable infant and toddler product standards.

Additionally, ASTM F2388–18 includes two distinct methods of assessing the single action release mechanism on self-folding steps, depending on the type of action necessary to release the mechanism. In ASTM F2388–16, the test for assessing self-folding steps on a baby changing product applied to all products with self-folding steps that had a "single action release mechanism," and entailed applying a force of 10 lbf (45 N) to the locking or latching mechanism. CPSC’s NPR proposed incorporating this requirement by reference, without modification. ASTM F2388–18, however, retains this test for mechanisms that require a "pull or push action," and adds a duration for applying the force. CPSC approved, finding that specifying a test duration was helpful to provide clarity about the test procedure. Moreover, the new standard also includes a different test for self-folding steps with a release mechanism that requires a "twist or turn action" to release, which was not in ASTM F2388–16 nor proposed in the NPR. CPSC said that this separate test is appropriate to better reflect and assess the different types of release mechanisms on self-folding steps.

Other final rule requirements. In the NPR, CPSC also proposed more stringent requirements in two areas to address structural integrity concerns—threaded fasteners and secondary support straps. Among the threaded fasteners proposals was the prohibition of the use of threaded fasteners, such as wood screws or sheet metal fasteners, directly into wood components that are key structural elements assembled by consumers. ASTM F2388–18 includes the same requirements concerning threaded fasteners as those proposed by CPSC in the NPR, as well as two additions that the Commission has approved in its final rule, finding them consistent with the requirements proposed in the NPR, which it said will improve the structural integrity of baby changing products. CPSC also proposed adopting the structural integrity testing required in ASTM F2388–16, but modified the test to specify that consumer-installed secondary support straps must not be installed for the test. ASTM F2388–18 includes the same provisions proposed in the NPR with only a minor difference.

While neither voluntary standard, nor the NPR, required baby changing products to include restraint systems, the Commission proposed in the NPR the requirement that restraint systems be tested using a CAMI dummy. ASTM F2388–18 includes the same restraint system testing requirements as those proposed in the NPR. Therefore, CPSC found these requirements to be appropriate to reduce the hazards associated with ineffective restraints. Also, CPSC had proposed more stringent warning label content and format requirements than those in ASTM F2388–16. ASTM F2388–18 includes the labeling requirements proposed in the NPR with minimal modifications that the Commission found did not notably alter the proposed requirements.

Finally, the NPR had proposed more stringent requirements for instructional literature, including format requirements consistent with those for on-product warnings, a requirement that instructions be in English at a minimum, and a requirement that additional labels must not contradict the meaning of required information. CPSC found that the instructional literature requirements in ASTM F2388–18 are consistent with those in the NPR, and approved the minor adjustments in the standard.

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