Bunk beds not meeting standards
Product safety alert
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs are advising consumers to be careful when choosing bunk beds. A recent screening test carried out by the Ministry showed that none of the bunk beds examined met the voluntary safety standard.
Over the last few years, there have been a number of reported injuries and deaths associated with bunk beds.
Bunk beds pose a number of hazards for both children and adults. Falls are the most common injury associated with these products and can be fatal. The user is most likely to fall when there are insufficient guard rails surrounding the top bunk, or when the ladder is not safe.
Strangulation is a major hazard when there are protrusions over 5mm on the corner posts. Extensions or decorative finials on the posts can catch on clothing or bedding and accidentally hang the occupant.
Gaps within the structure of the bed can trap and injure heads, hands, arms and legs. It is strongly recommended that children under six should not use the top bunk – they are not suitable for young children. The standard recommends that only children over the age of nine use the top bunk. The top bunk should only be used for sleeping and there should be no design features such as the bed having the appearance of a vehicle or having a slide in place of a ladder, which would encourage the bunk to be seen as a play area.
The current voluntary safety standard in New Zealand is AS/NZS 4220:2010. It applies to beds where the upper surface of any mattress base is 700mm or over above the floor.
Given the identified issues with compliance for bunk beds, the suppliers of consumer products will be advised that this must be addressed. The Consumer Guarantees Act requires products to be safe, and compliance with the appropriate standard provides evidence that safety has been taken into consideration.
If the Ministry considers that industry fails to adequately address the hazards associated with the supply of bunk beds in New Zealand it may consider whether the standard should be adopted as a mandatory product safety standard.