The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is adopting a mandatory safety standard to protect older adults from risks of injury and death from entrapment by adult portable bed rails.
The agency has identified 284 entrapment deaths involving adult portable bed rails from January 2003 to December 2021.
The new standard is in response to a lack of industry compliance with voluntary safety measures.
While designed to help prevent someone from falling out of bed and provide extra support, adult portable bed rails caused at least 284 entrapment deaths between January 2003 and December 2021.1 And a voluntary safety standard has proven to lack widespread industry compliance.
To help protect older adults and other vulnerable consumers from unreasonable risks of injury and death associated with entrapment by adult portable bed rails, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is taking action.
Addressing deadly bed rail hazards
To address the entrapment risk, and also reduce deaths and injuries resulting from falls and other adult portable bed rail hazards, the CSPC voted to adopt a mandatory safety standard for these devices.
The rule establishes a mandatory performance requirement and test procedure to reduce the risk of entrapment and other hazards associated with the use of adult portable bed rails and requires all adult portable bed rails sold in the United States and manufactured after the effective date to comply with the standard’s performance and testing requirements.
What is new in the mandatory safety standard?
The standard incorporates by reference the voluntary ASTM International (ASTM) F3186-17, Standard Specification for Adult Portable Bed Rails and Related Products, with some modifications.
The modifications to the ASTM standard that are made in the new rule provide clarity and improve safety by:
- Adding new definitions to ensure consistency throughout the rule.
- Improving requirements for manufacturers to inform the consumer of the range of mattress thicknesses to ensure safe use of the product and to provide testers with guidance for selecting the correct mattress thickness during the test setup.
- Updating the requirements for entrapment testing to be consistent with known hazards.
Why is a new safety standard needed for adult portable bed rails?
CPSC testing conducted in 2018-2019, and again in 2021, indicates there is not substantial industry compliance with the ASTM standard.
CPSC has issued five public warnings regarding specific adult portable bed rails that did not comply with the voluntary standard and numerous recalls. The Commission vote was 4 to 0.
The new mandatory standard will apply to newly manufactured bed rails. But it's important to remember previously sold or secondhand bed rails are not necessarily safe to use. In July 2022, CSPC issued a recall of Mobility Transfer Systems adult portable bed rails because of deadly entrapment risk. As CSPC's Judy Echavez said at the time, "Adult portable bed rails may help protect a frail, injured, or older loved one with limited mobility from falling out of bed or provide them with some extra support as they are being cared for. But this CSPC warning is an important reminder that not all bed rails on the market are safe."
The effective date for the final new mandatory safety standard is 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register, which was July 21, 2023.2
1. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. CPSC Issues New Federal Mandatory Safety Standard for Adult Portable Bed Rails. July 6, 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2023/CPSC-Issues-New-Federal-Mandatory-Safety-Standard-for-Adult-Portable-Bed-Rails
2. Federal Register. Safety Standard for Adult Portable Bed Rails. A Rule by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. July 21, 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2023/07/21/2023-15189/safety-standard-for-adult-portable-bed-rails