In Wake of Stork Craft Crib Recall, CPSC Head Promises New RegulationsNov 25, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Following the massive Stork Craft crib recall issued this week, the head of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) conceded that her agency has been too slow to address the issue of crib safety. In various interviews over the past day or so, Inez Tenenbaum also hinted that a ban on drop side cribs could be part of new mandatory crib regulations the CPSC is working on.
Earlier this week, Stork Craft Manufacturing Inc. recalled 2.1 million drop side cribs - including 150,000 bearing the Fisher-Price logo - in the U.S. and Canada. According to the CPSC, the defective Stork Craft cribs had been implicated in the suffocation deaths of four children - a 7-month-old in New Iberia, La.; a 6-month-old in Summersville, W.Va.; and a 9-month-old in Bronx, N.Y. In total, there had been 110 incidents of drop-side detachment; 67 of which occurred in the U.S. The incidents include 15 entrapments; 12 in the U.S. and three in Canada. There had also been 20 reported falls from cribs; 12 in the U.S. and eight in Canada. Fall injuries ranged from concussion to bumps and bruises, the CPSC said.
According to the agency, all of the Stork Craft cribs in these incidents had plastic drop-side hardware that had broken or was missing; deformed claws, connectors, tracks, or flexible tab stops; loose or missing metal spring clips; stripped screws; and/or drop-sides installed upside-down.
Anyone who reads this blog knows that crib recalls occur on a depressingly regular basis - especially those involving the drop side variety. Drop side cribs are popular because they allow caregivers to easily access the beds. Unfortunately, poor design, poorly written assembly directions, or broken pieces can all cause the side rail to fall unexpectedly, or separate from the rest of the bed, creating an entrapment hazard. In many instances, children have been injured and even killed after becoming entrapped in a gap between the side rail and headboard of a drop side crib.
More than 5 million drop side cribs have been recalled over the past two years alone, and such cribs have been connected with the deaths of a dozen young children. On Tuesday, Tenenbaum actually advised that parents and caregivers abandon drop side cribs. She also admitted that her agency's track record on crib safety hasn't exactly been stellar.
"We have just not been acting as quickly as we should have at the Consumer Product Safety Commission on these types of incidents," Tenenbaum said Tuesday during an interview on a morning news show. "I have just been appointed a few months ago to chair the Consumer Product Safety Commission and this case came in front of me just a few weeks ago."
Tenenbaum said the CPSC would be proposing new mandatory crib regulations in the next few months, but said she did "not think drop-sides will be a part of cribs in the future."