Monday June 25, 2012
CPSC Gives Update on Hazards Related to Bassinet StabilityBy Brett Aho
Following a series of recent incidents involving bassinets, CPSC staff met on June 21 with the ASTM bassinet stability task group to discuss revisions to ASTM F2194, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bassinets and Cradles. The meeting came as a result of four IDIs (in-depth investigations) on reported problems with bassinet stability, including one fatality, one injury, and two non-injuries. The type of bassinet referenced in all of the IDIs has a removable bed that locks or latches to the bassinet stand without the use of tools, and in all four incidents, parents either did not use or misused the bassinet’s fastening mechanism.
In the fatality case, the parents did not attach the latching mechanism to the bassinet and there was reported sibling involvement at the time of the incident. Police believe that the parents did not attempt to use the latch, since the latch was found to be in working condition and that the bassinet was probably just placed on the stand.
The injury case involved a 4-month-old with no reported sibling involvement. The bassinet detached from the stand and fell, and the child was bruised on the face. In one of the non-injury cases, the bassinet was unoccupied and knocked off the stand by a parent. In the other non-injury case, the father checked on his child inside the bassinet. While he was leaning against the product, it began to fall off the stand and he caught it. In two of the four incidents, the latching mechanism was located underneath the bed portion and therefore was not readily visible.
In response to the incidents, CPSC launched a study testing individual bassinets, including three of the products involved in the incident reports. As part of the study, six stability tests already have been performed, and thus far four of six units have failed when tested with a newborn dummy with the latch unlocked. However, none of the units failed when tested unlatched with a heavier six-month-old infant dummy. In addition, all six units, when latched, passed the current stability test included in the standard.
CPSC found that parents often assume that bassinets are being used properly even when unlocked, unknowingly putting their child at risk. As a result, CPSC suggested that a new standard might include more stringent provisions for these kinds of incidents. “Perhaps you either have to meet the standard unlocked, or else you have to have a visual indicator that shows that it is unlocked,” explained Patricia Edwards, CPSC Directorate for Engineering Sciences. She said another option might be to create a standard that would require bassinets to be unusable while unlatched.
When addressing bassinet stability, CPSC clarified that a revised standard would apply only to bassinets, and would not apply when bassinets are converted into a stroller or a carrier. “If it’s attached to a stroller base, it is a stroller, not a bassinet,” Edwards explained. “What we’re trying to do with a lot of ballots as of late, is be real clear when a product is something and not another.”
The group will review test methodology over the next few weeks and will work to create new language for the standard. It currently is scheduled to meet again in two weeks and to will present the final proposed language at the full ASTM subcommittee meeting in October.