Toys 'R Us to Stop Selling Dangerous Drop-Side CribsApr 22, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Concerns over dangerous drop-side cribs have prompted Toys 'R Us to stop ordering them. According to The Wall Street Journal, the decision the retailer announced yesterday follows an agreement last month by some crib makers to support a proposed ban on drop-side cribs.
Drop-side cribs are popular because they allow caregivers to easily access the beds. But as anyone who reads this site knows, drop-side cribs have been the subject of numerous recalls, many of which occurred after children were injured - and in some cases killed - because of defective cribs. In many cases, problems with drop-side cribs occur when hardware fails. The problem is exacerbated because most families use a crib for more than one child. The older the crib, the more likely it is that hardware will wear out and fail.
According to the Journal, there have been 21 recalls of 4.2 million cribs over the past two years because of hazardous defects. Recalled cribs have been implicated in five deaths, and there have been 16 incidents where children became trapped in parts of the beds. In many cases, the Journal said, these problems have involved drop-side cribs. What's more, nearly every recalled crib - even those involved in fatalities - had met current safety standards.
As we reported last month, at a meeting of the standards organization ASTM International, major crib manufacturers signed on to a proposal that would ban drop-side cribs in the U.S. Proposed new rules would require that all four sides of the crib be rigidly attached to one another. Such a design eliminates the moving parts that have broken loose and created entrapment hazards. The regulations would allow a small portion of the top of a crib railing to fold down, so that people who need it would still have easier access to the crib.
Unfortunately, according to The Wall Street Journal, even if the proposal is adopted, ASTM doesn't have enforcement powers. And in the best case scenario, the a ban could take a year to become effective and would likely apply only to newly made cribs.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is scheduled to meet today with consumer advocates, crib makers and others to discuss ways the government could better assure crib safety.
Toys 'R Us is apparently not willing to wait for the industry or the CPSC to act. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the company's Chairman and Chief Executive Jerry Storch said Toys 'R Us is now moving to phase out drop-side cribs. He added that the current economic conditions could be encouraging more consumers to hold on to their cribs, making hardware failures more likely.
"It adds in an element of risk that we don't want to take, particularly over time," Storch said. "It seems that the strongest cribs are ones where the four sides attach to each other and have less complicated hardware."