The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a final rule establishing a safety standard for play yards in response to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which requires the Commission to promulgate rules for durable infant or toddler products that are “substantially the same as” or more stringent than applicable voluntary standards. Effective February 23, 2013, the final rule adopts the provisions set forth in ASTM F406-12a, including the following mandatory requirements: (i) “a stability test to prevent the play yard from tipping over”; (ii) “latch and lock mechanisms to keep the play yard from folding on a child when it is being used”; (iii) “entrapment tests for attachments so a child’s head does not get trapped while a bassinet or other accessory is attached”; (iii) “floor strength tests to ensure structural integrity and to prevent children from getting trapped by the play yard floor”; (iv) “minimum side height requirements to prevent children from getting out of the play yard on their own”; and (v) “a test to prevent play yards whose top rails fold downward from using a hinge that creates a V- or diamond shape when folded to prevent head or neck entrapments.”

Under the final rule, manufacturers must certify that their play yards meet these safety standards “based on testing conducted by a CPSC-accepted third party conformity testing body.” Once the Commission releases a final notice of requirements (NOR) pertaining to certification and testing, third-party conformity assessment bodies can apply to the agency for the proper accreditation to test play yards. See CPSC Press Release, July 29, 2012; Federal Register, August 29, 2012.

Meanwhile, CPSC has published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) that covers one additional requirement not present in ASTM F406-12a and which addresses “the hazards associated with the use of play yard bassinet accessories that can be assembled with missing key structural elements.” Referred to as the “bassinet misassembly requirement,” the provision proposed in the NPR seeks to prevent infant suffocation deaths by ensuring that key structural elements cannot be removed without resulting in the visible “catastrophic failure” of the bassinet.

In particular, CPSC would offer two ways for manufacturers to comply with the new requirements. “The first way to comply prevents misassembly by requiring that all key structural elements be attached permanently to the bassinet shell,” states the agency in its August 29, 2012, Federal Register notice. “The second method of compliance is designed to alert consumers if a key structural element is missing by requiring that the removal of even one key structural element results in a catastrophic failure of the bassinet.” During its assessment of the “bassinet misassembly requirement,” CPSC has requested feedback that discusses, among other things, whether the “catastrophic failure test” “is necessary, or if manufacturers should be required to attach all key structural elements permanently,” as well as alternatives to the proposed measures. The Commission will accept comments on the NPR until November 13, 2012.