On 29 February 2016, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched a public consultationregarding the mandatory safety standard for bunk beds and elevated beds (collectively called “bunk beds“). The purpose of the review is to ensure the mandatory standard remains effective and assess whether there are more effective ways of achieving the same level of safety.
The ACCC previously consulted on changes to the mandatory standard in 2014. In accordance with the Australian Government objective to reduce duplicative regulation, The ACCC is now consulting again to consider adopting trusted international standards.
Stakeholders are invited to comment on a number of safety issues and policy options. They can now submit feedback to the ACCC by 11 April 2016. Outlines of the consultation for bunk beds are summarized as follows:
A. Emerging safety hazards
Fall hazards, the possibility to
exclude elevated beds where the upper surface of the mattress is 800mm from the floor;
include requirements for the strength of mattress base supports such as slats;
have a dedicated access device like ladders;
require guardrails to have at least 360mm or above the mattress base;
include test requirements for guardrail; and
regulate the number of access openings on the upper bunk
Gaps and entrapment hazards
To clarify the interpretation for identifying hazardous gaps and specify the requirements for entrapment hazards
Many international standards require bunk beds to have the warning stating that they are not suitable for children under age of 6. However, The ACCC is seeking advise to recommend safe age for use starts from 9 years old.
B. Assessment of international standards
The ACCC considers to adopt three suitable internal standards (ISO 9098, ASTM F1427 and EN 747) which will be included as one of the option for policy making.
The ACCC mentioned there have been changes of bunk beds market since 2002. Bunk bed designs now commonly include elements of play, study or storage. Different methods of access are now provided including stairs that incorporated with drawers.
Current mandatory standard set out minimum requirements for the construction, design and labelling for bunk beds. Numbers of emerging safety hazards have not been addressed since the standard was based on the 1994 version of the Australian standard AS/NZS 4220, which has been reviewed and updated several times. The most recent version was published in 2010.