In 1994, ASTM International initiated the development of a voluntary standard for bath seats, ASTM F 1967-99 Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Infant Bath Seats. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff took part in the development of the standard, which was published in June of 1999, and included marking, labeling and literature requirements as well as performance requirements addressing stability, static load, latching/locking mechanisms, restraint systems, and other requirements commonly found in juvenile product standards.
Since the initial standard, ASTM F 1967 has been revised three times - in 2001, 2003 and in 2004. The following is an overview of the significant revisions for each of these versions:
- ASTM F 1967-01 added a new requirement for suction cup integrity (addressing attachment to the bath seat and to the bathing surface) and a durability requirement for latching/locking mechanisms.
- ASTM F 1967-03 added a performance test for the size of the leg openings and occupant seating space to address entrapment and submersion incidents.
- ASTM F 1967-04 added a revised stability test to address tipovers that occur in tubs with non-slip surfaces. This revision also updated the warning label requirements.
On October 16, 2003, the Commission voted to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2003 NPR) for baby bath seats. On December 29, 2003, the NPR on Baby Bath Seats and Rings was published in the Federal Register (Volume 68, page 74878).
The current version of the voluntary standard, ASTM F 1967-04, contains essentially the same requirements that are outlined in the 2003 NPR. The only exception is that the warning label for the voluntary standard does not contain the same language included in the 2003 NPR label.
Current Voluntary Standards Activity
The briefing package for the 2003 NPR cited 96 deaths and 153 non-fatal incidents/complaints involving bath seats in the U.S. from January 1983 through December 2002. Since that briefing package was prepared, the CPSC has reports of an additional 27 deaths and 29 non-fatal incidents (reported through April 2005) for a total of 123 deaths and 182 non-fatal incidents.
Most of the products involved in the fatal and non-fatal incidents involved bath seats certified to meet one of the older versions of the ASTM voluntary standard for bath seats; however, some recent incidents involved bath seats certified to meet the current voluntary standard, ASTM F1967-04.
In light of the incidents associated with the newer certified bath seats, CPSC staff is participating with ASTM in developing additional performance requirements and warning labels for both bath seats and all infant tub types of products.
The stability requirement currently under development takes into account the types of bath tubs in which these products are used, as well as surface conditions in bath tubs. It is anticipated that a revised stability requirement will be balloted in 2006.
A proposed revision of the ASTM warning label resulted from a focus group study that evaluated the effectiveness of bath seat warning labels. In the study, the label specified in the current ASTM voluntary standard was compared to the label proposed by CPSC staff in the 2003 NPR. The results of that study showed an overwhelming preference for the CPSC staff’s 2003 NPR label. In addition, the focus group recommended consistency when referring to the occupant of the bath seat, by using the word baby (or babies) rather than child (or children). Based on the focus group results, it is anticipated that the warning label requirements will also be revised and added to the voluntary standard in 2006.
CPSC Staff Reports, Memoranda and Contracts:
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