Can Bunk Beds Be Safe And Flexible?

by Katie Sloan

Sleeping six feet off the floor requires safety features that may soon be legally required.

Kelly Uhland

Student safety is a top priority for housing professionals. This has led property management firms, designers, and school administrators to take a hard look at the realities of students sleeping six feet off the floor. Here are some common questions and answers:

Q: Are college students falling out of bed or are these isolated incidents?
A: Estimates show more than 2,000 instances each year where 18-22-year-olds seek medical treatment for bunk-bed related injuries.

Q: Who is liable for the injury?
A: Recent litigations have cited both institutions and manufacturers, even when alcohol was involved.

Q: Are Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations headed our way?
A: Current regulations provide voluntary measures for institutional beds, however, recent events are indicative of this changing.

Guard rails for fall prevention have long been a voluntary measure — one that many institutions and property owners ignored.

Limited budgets create tough decisions for builders even as risk managers shake their heads. Lawsuits continue to be on the rise, and people are taking notice. Fortunately, a few simple measures can make a difference. Here are some proactive approaches to making adjustable height beds safer:

1. Look for adjustable height beds that do not exceed 30 inches. This reduces liability by proactively conforming to the CPSC’s guard rail requirements. Guard rails are required in the consumer industry on any bed with a sleep surface above 30 inches, including the lower bunk.

2. Bolt on your guard rails. Students tend to remove these if they are only hooked on. You’ll have peace of mind knowing they are going to remain exactly where you put them.

3. Documentation is key. Most colleges and universities provide students the option of safety equipment for their upper bed. Be sure to encourage students to utilize them, and warn them of the dangers otherwise. Should a student decide not to use this safety equipment, a release form should be obtained.

As customers began requesting more serious methods for reducing this liability, Savoy Contract Furniture has developed three solutions to address the issue. With the recent launch of a new adjustable height bed called the Smart Bed, the uppermost position stays safely below 30 inches by design. To maximize storage, high capacity stackable chests fit neatly below the bottom bunk. These two drawer units contain more storage capacity than a standard three-drawer chest.

When it comes to safety gear for the top bunk, new guard rails can easily be attached
semSavoy Contract Furniture’s Smart Beds
have multiple features
engineered to meet safety concerns.
i-permanently with specially designed fasteners, or bolted on with pre-bored openings. This includes full length safety rails, or a partial length guard rail made for the entrance side of the bed.

There are many questions to ask and answers to seek when procuring residence hall furniture. Versatility, storage, style and budget may drive decisions from one vendor to the next, but safety leads the way as a non-negotiable factor in design.

For information and guidance regarding bunk bed safety, contact Kelly Uhland, director of marketing with Savoy Contract Furniture at [email protected] or call 1-800-233-8953.

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