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New cot bumper standard expected to be published

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Following the publication of BS EN 16890:2017 Children's furniture. Mattresses for cots and cribs. Safety requirements and test methods in September last year there has been growing confusion within the industry as to whether the existing British Standard (BS 1877-10:2011 + A1:2012 Domestic bedding. Specification for mattresses and bumpers for children’s cots, perambulators and similar domestic articles) remained in play or had in fact been superseded.

Whilst it is the norm for any conflicting national standards to be withdrawn following publication of a corresponding European standard, BS 1877 Part 10 was a little different as the standard covered a second group of products, namely cot bumpers.

To further add to the confusion the national foreword, added by the committee responsible, confirmed that a negative vote was cast by the UK. This in itself is not unusual and can happen for a number of reasons including, in the case of BS EN 16890: 2017, where there is a direct conflict between the standard and published UK legislation.

Lastly, the Scope of BS EN 16890: 2017 states clearly that the standard “does not apply to mattresses for carry cots and pram bodies, inflatable mattresses, water mattresses and mattresses used for medical purposes". 

So, where does that leave manufacturers, retailers or even specifiers; and what difference does the publication of a new European standard for cot bumpers make?

Ideally, at publication stage, BS EN 16890: 2017 should have at the very least partially superseded BS 1877 Part 10 in that the most recently published document should be used for testing and assessment of children’s mattresses. Cot bumpers could still be assessed in accordance with BS 1877 Part 10 as there was no other standard available to use, until now.

The publication of BS EN 16780. Textile child care articles. Safety requirements and test methods for children's cot bumpers, should lead to the formal withdrawal of BS 1877 Part 10 as there will now be new standards covering both mattresses and cot bumpers.

This new standard, compiled in a hazard based format, contains a raft of new definitions as well as new physical requirements which take into account modern construction methods and materials; new chemical requirements including updated migration limits and sections on formaldehyde and flame retardants; expanded hygiene requirements; comprehensive user and purchase information and informative annex on rationales to promote understanding of the requirements. 

Whilst the withdrawal of BS 1877 Part 10 may appear to leave out those smaller products such as moses baskets or carrycot mattresses, there is nothing to prevent BS EN 16890 from being used as a means of assessing the safety of these products. 

In fact, there could be more of an argument for using the new and more up to date hazard based standard, than using a document which is perceived as being out of date.

Mattresses fall within the scope of the General Product Safety Directive as well as the UK’s Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 as amended. When considering general product safety, if there is no published standard for a specific product or function, best practice normally suggests that each product needs to be assessed on its own merits, often encompassing an assessment to the nearest applicable standard. FIRA’s experts can assist with developing a suitable assessment programme for such products. For further details email info@fira.co.uk