With the goal of helping to reduce child injuries and deaths, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently rubber-stamped updated federal safety guidelines for infant carriers, specifically of the sling variety. This mandatory standard applies to those sling carriers caregivers wear to transport a single infant or toddler, usually up to 35 pounds, though some go up to 50 pounds.
The designs can range from hammock-like products that are mostly unstructured and hang from the caregiver’s body to a wrap of fabric that girds around the adult’s body. The caregiver wears the carrier, and once the child is inside, he or she is supported by either one or both shoulders of the adult. The carrier can be used either in front or in back, either with the child facing away or toward the adult, or else reclined in the front.
Updated federal safety standards are based on the most recently updated standard voluntarily adopted by the industry and outlined by ASTM International. However, there is an additional requirement regarding label attachments. ASTM F2907-15 is the standard, and it establishes the performance requirements, testing methods and manufacturing requirements that must be met in order to ensure that use of these sling carriers is safe.
Federal regulators say the updated standard is needed because between 2003 and 2016, there have been nearly 160 incidents reported to the CPSC that involve injuries or near-injuries resulting from the use of sling carriers. Of those incidents, 17 were fatal. Of those that were not fatal, 67 involved a reported injury, including 10 children who had to be hospitalized.
Among the new mandatory standards that will formally be in place of next year, sling carriers must:
- Be able to bear up to triple the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight limit.
- Be structural sound so that after product testing, there are no indications that the fabric is tearing or the seams are shredding.
- Prevent children falling out when the sling or carrier is being used normally.
On top of these requirements, the carriers have to contain certain clear warning labels and instructions. These have to include pictures of how to properly position the child, warning statements regarding suffocation hazards (and prevention) for small infants, warnings about falls and notice to caregivers to check buckles, snaps, rings and other hardware before each use.
Suffocation risk for small infants is especially problematic. Babies younger than four months can’t control their heads because their neck muscles are still developing, and the positioning of certain slings can result in blocking the baby’s airway. A child can suffocate within just a minute or two.
The new standard falls under the requirements of The Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act, which requires the CPSC to issue warnings about potentially dangerous child products. That has led to updated standards for a range of products, including cribs, play yards, baby walkers, baby bath seats, strollers, toddler beds, infant swings, bassinets, cradles and hook-on chairs. Our Boston product liability attorneys recognize that while this new standard, approved 3-2 in January, will go into effect within a year, it’s possible unfortunately that not all manufacturers will comply. In cases where a child injury results from the use of defective infant carriers, our team of qualified injury lawyers can help outline the victims’ legal options.
If you are the victim of Massachusetts product liability, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — (617) 777-7777.
CPSC Approves New Federal Safety Standard for Infant Sling Carriers, Jan. 13, 2017, CPSC
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