Federal safety officials have voted unanimously to pass new standards for high chairs, in an effort to reduce the risks of children falling from the seats and suffering injuries.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the mandatory high chair standards on June 12, requiring increased rearward stability, warning labels, and requiring chairs to have passive crotch restraints, as well as a three-point restraint system.
The action comes after a review of high chair-related accident reports, which involved a total of 271 injuries reported between January 2011 and September 2017. Most of the problems occurred due to infants tipping over, or falling out of the chairs because they were not harnessed in the seat, or tray tables detached, allowing the child to fall forward. More than 18,000 high chair injuries were recorded between 2015 and 2016.
Most of the injuries observed in the incident reports resulted from a child attempting to climb into or out of the high chair. Other scenarios included the high chair tipping over after the child pushed back or rocked back and forth while seated in the chair. Officials identified other injury reasons stemmed from high chair device failures including faulty restraints or locking mechanism failures.
The new standards will require manufacturers to increase the rearward stability of high chairs to make them less vulnerable to tipping over if a child rocks back and forth. Addition requirements include a three point restraint system to prevent children from climbing out of the seats, and a passive crotch restraint that will not let children slip out from under the seat if restraint system were to fail.
The standards were introduced by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) as voluntary standards for manufacturers under ASTM F404-18, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for High Chairs. However, the CPSC is adopting these standards as a mandatory feature for all high chairs sold in the U.S. market, and for restaurants that offer high chairs to customers.
The CPSC stated the new mandatory high chair standards will go into effect 12 months after the final rule has been published in the Federal Register. From that date, the rules will apply to all manufacturers, distributors and importers.