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Risks in the sleeping environment

Sleep well… and safely

Under the title "Risks in the sleeping environment" the European Commission desires to give a mandate to CEN to initiate standardisation on the safety of children’s articles. A mandate is an express mission to develop European standards in support of the legislation and that may be used by manufacturers to prove the safety of their products and their compliance with the legislation.
It is still a long way from a mandate to a finished set of standards, but it is already clear that this initiative may have a huge impact. The introductory text of the mandate states indeed no less than 133,000 accidents with children’s articles per year that could have been avoided by means of a better communication and a safer design!

The mandate includes five product categories:

  • mattresses for children’s beds
  • buffer cushions for children’s beds
  • cribs and hammocks
  • eiderdowns
  • sleeping bag

The mandate quotes the following main risks to the safety of babies and infants:

  • strangulation and suffocation
  • fire risk
  • injuries due to falls or getting stuck
  • excess heating
  • cot death

The European RAPEX rapid alarm system already pointed out the danger of some types of buffer cushions or sleeping bags that have been removed by the supervising authorities.
At the very moment there are no European standards for the five above-mentioned product groups. It is therefore necessary to develop safety standards to eliminate the risks linked with these products or to reduce them at least to acceptable proportions.
The EU asks CEN that the new standards will include both test methods and product requirements and that they will reckon with the age and typical behaviour of the child.
CEN will also have to consider the national legislations and existing national standards. The latter are especially present in France and the United Kingdom.
After approval of the mandate, CEN will be accorded three years to develop the standards? This period may seem short, but it indicates the EU’s high concern with this issue.

For more information, contact: fred [dot] foubert [at] centexbel [dot] be