By Eric Spacek
Last December, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve new mandatory standards for full-size and non-full-size baby cribs, as ordered by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). These new regulations took effect in June, and include all cribs manufactured and sold, including resale, or leased in the United States. The new safety standards are intended to do the following:
- Stop the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs;
- Make mattress supports stronger;
- Make crib hardware more durable; and
- Make safety testing more rigorous.
These standards had not been updated in nearly 30 years and with the new guidelines, a safer line of cribs is expected to enter the marketplace. An increase in safer cribs could not come at a more critical time.
Since 2007, the CPSC has recalled more than 11 million dangerous cribs. Since 2000, detaching drop-side rails were associated with at least 32 infant deaths, and faulty hardware can be blamed for additional deaths.
Identifying new safety benefits
While drop-side cribs have received the most press for the number of fatalities they have caused, the new safety standards go beyond removing the drop-side from the marketplace.
They also include cracking down on malfunctioning or faulty hardware. This ensures that when older children begin shaking the frames or jumping in the cribs, the screws or other hardware stay tightly fastened and secure, even over years of use.
Mattress supports, slats and hardware now must be more durable to withstand this type of use. In addition, testing requirements are more stringent in order to ensure that the new beds are compliant with the stricter, safer regulations.
Managing financial investment
Because most current cribs will not meet these new standards, child care centers, daycares and places of public accommodation, including churches, have until Dec. 28, 2012, to comply with the updated safety standards. Until that time, owners are warned to frequently check all non-compliant cribs for loose hardware, and loose, missing or broken parts. These situations should be remedied immediately if any are occurring.
Having to replace multiple cribs can be a costly investment for a church, so organizations are encouraged to have a plan in place to help make the transition less strenuous.
Not only is the CPSC asking all consumers to purchase new cribs, they also are recommending that old cribs not be resold, donated, or given away. Because they are unsafe, no one should be using these older cribs. They are as equally unsafe for at-home use as they are for daycares and churches. The CPSC recommends disassembling the cribs before discarding so that no one else is tempted to use them.
The importance of safety
It is important that churches take these new guidelines seriously. If an injury or death were to occur from use of an older crib, being found non-compliant could result in a liability claim. It also could do irreparable damage to the trust your church congregation has in your safety and security practices.
Despite the financial investment involved, transitioning to cribs that meet the new federal safety standards is another way to keep the members of your church safe and secure, and help protect your organization from adverse publicity and an expensive claim or lawsuit.
Eric Spacek is senior risk manager at GuideOne Insurance, West Des Moines, IA. [ www.GuideOne.com ]