I voted with my colleagues today to approve new mandatory safety standards for adult portable bedrails because I am firmly committed to protecting the vulnerable consumers and caregivers who turn to these products for help.
The risks associated with adult portable bedrails fall disproportionately on vulnerable consumers, including seniors and disabled individuals, as well as their families and caregivers. From 2003-2021, CPSC incident data shows 284 fatalities related to rail entrapments; more than 80 percent of the victims were over 70 years old. These deaths were frequently gruesome: entrapments where the victim’s head or neck was caught, stuck, wedged or trapped between the mattress and the bed rail, between bed rail bars, or between a bed rail and another item of furniture. The new standards address these hazards, thanks to the careful work of CPSC staff and the dedication of the advocates who petitioned CPSC in 2013 to examine the need for rulemaking.
As the record amply demonstrates, this new rule is necessary to reduce the unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with adult portable bedrails. Despite years of accumulated evidence of fatalities and injuries involving entrapment in these bedrails, manufacturers have failed to take the actions necessary to mitigate known hazards. Now is the time for change. I call on those who manufacture and sell these products to take responsibility and to bring your products into compliance. The Commission’s vote sends a clear message that this rule is important and that enforcement will be a high priority.
In closing, I note that according to CPSC incident data, 70 percent of the victims were women. I am persuaded that gender differences shape the risk profiles for many consumer
products, and I will continue to advocate for consideration of these issues in our data collection as well as our analysis and testing. To take an example from another federal safety agency, the use of female crash test dummies in NHTSA’s automobile testing is a very recent development. As CPSC examines our own practices and assumptions, I expect that we too will take affirmative steps to account for gender differences and diversity of all kinds in pursuit of safety for all consumers.