The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff has issued a draft proposed rule that would establish safety standards for play yards. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires CPSC to issue a mandatory play yard standard similar to or more stringent than applicable voluntary standards.

ASTM International, which has developed a play yard standard, defines play yard as a “framed enclosure that includes a floor and has mesh or fabric sided panels primarily intended to provide a play or sleeping environment for children” who are shorter than 35 inches and cannot climb out. According to CPSC staff, from November 2007 through April 2011, more than 2,000 incidents related to play yards resulted in 49 fatalities, with most of the fatalities involving children ages 1 or younger and the rest involving children ages 1 to 3. The data apparently indicate that 37 deaths were related to the environment in or around the play yard, such as prone placement of the infant for sleeping, extra bedding or padding wedging the infant against the side of the play yard, and strangulation with window covering and computer cords, crib tents and other covers.  

Addressing hazards associated with play yards themselves, the draft proposed rule recommends adopting ASTM F 406-11 with three modifications: (i) “Remove the size and shape restrictions from the clamping surface in the corner bracket structural integrity test in section”; (ii) “Clarify wording in the Equipment subsection (8.12.1) of 8.12 Floor Strength Test for Mesh/Fabric Products”; and (iii) “Clarify wording in subsection of 8.12 Floor Strength Test for Mesh/Fabric Products.” According to the August 17, 2011, staff briefing package, CPSC has scheduled a decisional meeting on the proposal for September 14. CPSC staff has recommended that the agency publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register and calls for a final rule to become effective six months after publication.