Bunk bed importer improves quality control after safety standard breach
Linksea Pty Limited will modify its designs and monitor the quality of bunk beds it imports to ensure they comply with the mandatory safety standard as a part of court enforceable undertakings made to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The ACCC enforces a mandatory standard for bunk beds which came into operation in 2002. The standard is designed to reduce injuries to children by providing specific requirements for the construction of bunks, particularly around guardrails and any protrusions or gaps which may create an entrapment or strangulation hazard for children.
The ACCC arranged testing of Linksea's Snow Bunk bed and found that the beds did not comply with the mandatory safety standard. The gap for entry into the upper bunk was too large to prevent a child from falling out. Other gaps within the guardrails posed entrapment hazards - a child's body could have passed through, but their head may have become trapped.
Bunk bed-related injuries to children occur relatively frequently. Studies show that falls from bunk beds are one of the most common causes of injuries affecting young children, with at least 3,800 bunk bed-related injuries to Australian children under 15 requiring treatment by hospital emergency departments or general practitioners each year. No injuries occurred as a result of Linksea's non-compliance.
"Although I understand that Linksea had initially been advised that the Snow Bunks complied with the mandatory standard, this case highlights that companies need to ensure that every single finished product they supply meets these important safety requirements," ACCC deputy chairman Peter Kell said.
"Importers and retailers must be confident that the manufacturers they work with maintain constant vigilance over the quality control of their production lines. It is also important that importers and retailers have a system in place that ensures the products they receive are consistent with what they ordered, and with any sample initially sent for testing against the requirements of the mandatory standard."
Linksea has now conducted a recall of the bunk. All 38 Snow Bunks which had been supplied to retailers and consumers were located and either destroyed or made safe.
Following the ACCC investigation, which raised concerns that Linksea may have breached the Trade Practices Act 1974, Linksea has offered the ACCC a court enforceable undertaking that it will implement a trade practices compliance program.
"This case highlights the importance of regular product testing to ensure consumer safety," Mr Kell said.
"If a supplier cannot be sure that every finished product matches the design of the product initially tested, they either need to improve quality control or change the design to ensure possible manufacturing variations do not make finished products unsafe."
Mandatory standard for bunk beds
The mandatory standard for bunk beds provides a requirement for top bunks to have guardrails to prevent falls and also provides specific allowable measurements for protrusions and gaps in the bunk to help ensure that strangulation and entrapment hazards for children are not created.
Potential hazards of bunk beds
- falls, (over or through guard rails) from the upper bunk
- head or neck entrapments, in gaps large enough for feet or bodies but not large enough for the passage of a child's head
- possible strangulation or choking, by children's clothing snagging on upper bunk protrusions, and
- 'fall throughs' as a result of weak or insufficiently secured upper bunk mattress base members or supports.
Almost half of all bunk bed injury cases are in the five- to nine-year age group and, of these, a significant proportion require admittance to hospital. Almost half of all bunk bed related accidents result in fractures or concussion.
Linksea Trade Practices Act Compliance Program:
As a part of court-enforceable undertakings, the TPA Compliance Program Linksea have agreed to implement will include:
- training on the product safety provisions of the Act and mandatory product safety standards covering Linksea's products
- monitoring of Linksea's products covered by a mandatory standard to check that they are properly labelled
- monitoring of those products to check variation from their designs, and
- modification to the designs to take into account manufacturing variation to ensure the finished goods comply with the standard.
Ms Lin Enright, Director, Media unit, (02) 6243 1108 or 0414 613 520
Release #NR 35/10
Infocentre 1300 302 502