October 30, 2001
Commissioners' Statements: Bed Rail Decision
The Honorable Ann Brown, Chairman Vote in Favor of Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking To Address Risks Posed by Certain Portable Bed Rails
- Today, I voted in favor of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to
address the risk of injury and death to children posed by certain portable
Since 1990, fourteen deaths have occurred with portable bed rails. Twelve of
the deaths were caused by entrapment between the bed rail and part of the
bed. Eleven of the fourteen fatalities occurred to children under two years
of age. In a majority of these cases, a bed rail was away from the bed,
creating a small gap a child could fall into and strangle or suffocate.
This is a safety device that should not have the capacity to kill a child.
A little over a year ago, the Commission voted unanimously to publish an
Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to initiate rulemaking to address the
hazard associated with portable bed rails. We acted because of industry's
inaction. Without success, our technical experts tried to get the industry
to develop new designs for portable bed rails that would reduce the deaths
and injuries caused by the current designs.
Since the Commission approved and published the ANPR, the staff has worked
very hard to develop a draft standard. At a meeting held last week, the ASTM
Portable Subcommittee for Portable Bed Rails voted to send the draft
standard out for ballot. However, there was much debate and criticism of the
draft standard at the meeting, and the staff is convinced that it will
ultimately be rejected by the industry.
Sometimes the government can work with industry to move forward voluntarily
with creative and innovative designs to prevent injuries and death. We
certainly worked successfully with industry to produce effective results
with baby walkers. We also did it with the escalator industry, with their
voluntary efforts to improve designs of escalators.
Voluntary action is the preferred way.
But here, another year has passed, and there is still no voluntary standard
to adequately address this hazard. This is why I voted to approve a draft
standard that will ultimately bring bed rails into the 21st century, prevent
injuries and save lives.
This is our mission, and it the goal we must pursue.
Statement of the Honorable Thomas H. Moore
on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on
Portable Bed Rails
October 30, 2001
I am voting today to approve the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on portable
bed rails. Our staff has done an excellent job of devising a draft proposed
standard. And the staff's design concept has shown the industry that it is
possible to design a bed rail that meets the proposed standard. I encourage
industry to continue to work on this issue with our staff through the
voluntary standards process, but because there is still so much to be done
in that arena, the Commission must push ahead with its own regulatory
I support Commissioner Gall's direction to the staff to develop an
information and education campaign on the hazards of putting small children
to sleep on adult beds. Both bed rail and adult bed deaths of children are
tragedies that often happen when parents are trying to provide a safe place
for their children to sleep when visiting grandparents or friends who do not
have a crib. Because children are not supervised when they are sleeping, we
need to do what we can, both from a regulatory and from an educational
standpoint, to ensure that caregivers have a safe sleeping environment for
their young children.
Statement of the Honorable Mary Sheila Gall
in support of issuing a Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking on Portable Bed Rails
October 16, 2001
Today I voted in support of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish a
standard for portable bed rails that will reduce fatalities and serious
injuries to children. Fatalities and serious injuries result when a child
aged two years or under becomes entrapped between a portable bed rail and
the side of the mattress. While present portable bed rails are labeled that
they should not be used for children under two, it is obvious that
caregivers are using them for this purpose and that the design needs to
minimize the risk of entrapment.
While I am going forward with this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for
portable bed rails, I am just as concerned about the far larger problem of
entrapments of children aged two and under between the wall and the mattress
of adult sized beds. Between January of 1990 and August 2001 eleven children
aged less than two years died from entrapments involving portable bed rails
(an average of about one per year). During approximately that same period of
time, 224 children aged less than two years died from entrapments between
the wall and the mattress (an average of about 20 per year). For that
reason, I made a motion for the Commission staff to develop an information
and education (I&E) campaign to inform caregivers about the hazards of
placing children aged less than two years on adult-sized beds. This I&E
campaign should emphasize the hazard of entrapment between walls and
mattresses in adult-sized beds. I believe this I&E campaign is even more
important than the performance standard for portable bed rails in preventing
the tragedy of deaths from entrapment.