Safe cribs save lives.
Ensure your organization’s cribs are safe.
by Ryan Peak
ELEVEN MILLION. That’s how many cribs were recalled for defective design or hardware in the last five years. Given this alarming figure and regulations that went into effect last year, now is a good time to inspect any cribs in your facility to be sure they comply with the law and, most importantly, are safe for children.
Cribs used by childcare facilities and places of public accommodation must comply with the Consumer Product Safety Act and related regulations issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which ban the use of drop-side cribs and wood screws for key structural elements, require increased slat and mattress support strength, more rigorous safety testing, and better labeling and instruction to minimize assembly mistakes, and change the side rail height and toe hold standards. The CPSC offers guidance on its website at www.cpsc.gov to help you determine whether cribs comply with the regulations. The CPSC also maintains a list of recalled cribs on its website.
In addition to ensuring use of safe cribs, the CPSC also recommends the following for all babies in cribs:
- Place babies on their backs to sleep.
- Keep pillows, quilts, comforters, and cushions out of cribs, bassinets, and play yards.
- Use a firm, tight-fitting mattress.
- Do not use positioning devices.
- Instead of blankets for warmth, dress babies in footed pajamas.
Importantly, virtually anyone can violate the law by selling or even gifting or donating a banned crib. Therefore, the CPSC recommends all such cribs be disassembled and disposed of to prevent any further use.
The regulations come with steep penalties for noncompliance, including civil fines up to $100,000 per violation, as well as criminal penalties. They also allow for civil action against violators if a non-compliant crib injures a child, including awards of punitive damages if organizations are grossly negligent. General liability insurance often does not cover losses incurred because of gross negligence, so these types of damages awards could be detrimental to an organization.
Though the regulations do not specifically exempt churches from these requirements, the CPSC has issued guidance indicating that free childcare provided by volunteers during church services does not bring a church under the law. If a church pays the childcare staff or charges for its childcare services, however, it must comply with the regulations.
Regardless of the situation, we recommend voluntary compliance by every organization using cribs, both for the organization’s protection and the protection of the children it serves.