The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a mandatory federal safety standard for the manufacture of bunk beds. The standard was a response to approximately 10-deaths per year caused by entrapment in both child and adult bunk beds.
The mandatory standard was also a response to a lack of conformance by some members to a voluntary standard by some manufacturers published by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) in 1992.
Although the voluntary standard had requirements concerning entrapment hazards, the new CPSC standards are more stringent. Three factors make the CPSC ruling more stringent:
- Continuous guard rail along the wall side of the bunk
- Smaller spacing on the bottom bunk
- Required identification of manufacturer on all bunk beds
The mandatory federal ruling enables CPSC to hold retailers and distributors accountable, seek civil penalties of up to $1.5 million against manufacturers for non-complying bunk beds, and stop shipments of non-complying bunk beds made by foreign manufacturers.
According to this ruling, all bunk beds manufactured or imported for sale in the United States need to meet the following requirements:
- Any bed in which the underside of the foundation is over 30 inches from the floor must have guardrails on both sides and the wall side guardrail must be continuous.
- Openings in the upper bunk structure must be small enough (less than 3.5 inches) to prevent the passage of a child’s torso.
- Openings in the lower bunk end structures must be small enough to prevent entry by a child’s head or torso, or large enough to permit free passage of both the child’s head and torso.
- The bed must have a label identifying the manufacturer, distributor or seller, the model number, and the date of manufacture.
- Warnings must be on a label affixed to the bed and assembly instructions must accompany the bed. The label warns not to place children under 6 years old on the upper bunk and specifies mattress size.
Additional information on the CPSC ruling can be obtained by contacting the CPSC’s consumer hotline at 800-638-2772, or through the CPSC Web site .
Due to the danger of improperly supported mattresses falling on persons under the top bunk, the CPSC further recommends side-to-side mattress supports. Consumers that currently have bunk beds with mattress or foundations that rely on side rail ledges as the only means of support, may write to the following address and ask for a free cross wire support kit:
Bunk Bed Kit
P.O. Box 2436
High Point, NC 27261
Camps purchasing beds should be aware of these requirements and take care to only purchase beds that meet the CPSC standard. While the rule affects the manufacture and sale of bunk beds after July 1, 2000, consideration should be given to whether current non-conforming beds can be safely modified to meet this standard as funds and appropriately manufactured retro-fits become available.