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New Safety Standard For Cots

A new safety standard for cots is being introduced, Consumer Affairs Minister Peter McCardle announced today. The regulation has been approved by Cabinet. It will cover second-hand as well as new cots, and will require the use of warning labels on plastic cot covers.

"This move will help improve babies' safety, and reduce the risk of suffocation and trapping hazards," Mr McCardle said.

The standard will be mandatory and replaces the current voluntary standard for manufacturers, which has not been adequately complied with.

It will be introduced in the middle of next year, allowing cot manufacturers time to ensure their designs meet the new requirements. There has been lengthy consultation with interested parties before the decision to introduce the standard, which will cover:

- the quality of materials used in construction - safety features such as the depth of the cot, the size of the gaps between the bars, and protrusions - the provision of clear, concise safety instructions for the user - the provision of safety warnings and manufacturing details, including warnings that the plastic mattress cover must be removed before use.

The standard also sets out tests that a cot must pass to ensure it is structurally sound and stable.

"I am particularly pleased with the inclusion of a warning on the plastic wrap which covers cot mattresses, following a recent tragedy," Mr McCardle said. Earlier this year a young baby died from what was thought to be suffocation by the plastic bag wrapping left on her mattress to protect it from fumes and dust.

"The new standard also recognises the need for minimum safety requirements on second-hand cots, which feature in many of the injuries, in particular those with headboards that have been removed or altered, and cots with projections."

However it cannot give absolute protection to sleeping babies as there are many causes of cot accidents, and parents and caregivers are recommended to take further steps to ensure children's safety:

-ensure there are no large toys or other objects in the cot, as small children can pile them up and climb out of the cot

- ensure the cot is placed well away from curtains or blinds, as a child may be strangled by curtains or a cord blown into a cot by the wind through an open window

- ensure the cot is not close to other furniture which could provide a foothold to allow a child to climb out

- ensure there are no toys or cot bumper pads tied to the cot with long strings or ribbons, which can strangle a small child.

Mr McCardle also said that parents and caregivers have a responsibility for maintaining their cots to make sure they remain safe. "That means taking commonsense measures such as periodically checking that bars are not broken or loose, edges remain smooth and rounded and that dropside locks remain secure," he concluded.


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