Beware of finger entrapment when using a folding step stool made of resin! Infants get their fingers caught and cut off
Stepladders and step stools are sometimes used at home to get something on a high place. Recently, hardware and variety stores sell resin folding step stools which can be folded and stored in a narrow space (e.g. between a wall and furniture) when not in use.
Last year, an infant got a finger caught in a gap on a folding step stool and the fingertip was cut off when the infant was standing while holding on to the folding step stool. Then, a consumer affairs center requested NCAC to test the product. The Medical Facility Network* also received reports of similar finger injuries suffered by infants.
Therefore, NCAC decided to examine the structure of some folding step stools and the risk of finger injuries caused by touching a moving part thereof to issue a consumer alert to prevent similar incidents.
- * The Medical Facilities Network is a joint project by the Consumer Affairs Agency and NCAC which started operating from December 2010. The network collects accident reports on people receiving treatment at medical facilities after suffering life-threatening or bodily injuries in their daily lives.
Photo 1. Example of a folding step stool
What is a folding step stool
A folding step stool is lightweight because it's made of resin. When the top panel and leg parts are folded, the folding step stool can be stored in a narrow space. When the top panel and leg parts are unfolded, the top panel is leveled and one person can stand on it.
Photo 2. Appearance of a folding step stool
Cases reported to the Medical Facility Network
According to some cases of infant finger injuries received by the Medical Facility Network, it appears that the infants got injured because a folding step stool was folded when the infants put their fingers on it. The following shows two of the cases.
- [Case 1]
- When a parent took the handle on the top panel, a child's finger was caught in the gap.
- [Case 2]
- When an infant was touching a folding step stool, his brother tugged it. Then the folding step stool was folded and the infant's finger was caught in a gap and cut off.
Product test conducted by request from a consumer affairs center
NCAC has conducted a product test at the request of a consumer affairs center. It appears that the victim had a finger caught in a gap between the top panel and the leg part and got injured.
Product test of ten brands
Examination whether the top panel can be raised with the force of an infant
- It appears that the top panel can be raised even with the force of an infant and then the gap between the top panel and the leg part can be widen.
Examination whether there is a gap that an infant's finger can enter
NCAC has examined whether there is a gap that an infant's finger can enter with use of two finger probes: one similar to a finger of a six-month-old infant and another similar to a finger of a six-year-old child.
- When the folding step stool was being unfolded, a gap was generated and a child's finger could be caught there.
- When the folding step stool was being folded, a gap was generated and a child's finger could be caught there.
Examination of possible injuries when a finger is caught in a gap
(A dummy of a one-year-old infant was used in the test.)
- When the dummy was standing while holding onto the top panel, all the weight of the dummy was put on the top panel. The lower the top panel, the greater the weight becomes.
- When all the weight of the dummy was put on the top panel, a nearby adult's finger could get cut depending on the part being caught.
- When a finger probe was inserted in a narrow gap while the folding step stool was being folded or unfolded, the fingertip could get cut.
Labeling and representation
- Some of the brands instruct on the label that the product should be used only as intended (e.g. "The step stool must not be used as a chair.")
- None of the brands mention about the risk of finger or other body part entrapment and cut.
Advice for consumers
- When buying a step stool, family members with infants should consider choosing a product with integral or assembly structure without any moving part or fitting part.
- Be careful not to get fingers caught in a gap on the moving part or fitting part on a folding step stool.
- Keep a folding step stool away from infants. Store it properly.
Request to businesses
- Keep consumers informed about restriction against children, enhanced precautions and the risk of finger injuries by getting caught in a gap.
- When products are intended to be used by those including infants, develop products that can be safely used by infants.
Request for cooperation to online shopping mall
- Please remind consumers and sellers that infants may get their fingers injured from getting caught in a gap on a folding step stool.
Request to the government
- Issue a consumer alert and raise consumer awareness to keep infants away from folding step stools to prevent infant finger injuries.
- In order to prevent similar injuries when using a folding step stool, please encourage businesses to label the risk of serious infant injuries from getting fingers caught in a gap.
- Please encourage relevant industry associations and businesses to develop a safety standard to prevent injuries from getting a body part caught in a gap.
- * Please note that the video includes a big sound.
Video: Beware of finger entrapment when using a folding step stool made of resin(Japanese version)