Bunk Bed and Loft Bed Safety
United Educators’ (UE’s) claims show students have suffered serious brain and spinal injuries after falling from space-saving lofts, bunk beds, or the ladders attached to them. But your K-12 school, college, or university can help avoid injuries by following a few precautions.
- Make safety rails available. Offer safety rails to students who sleep on upper bunk beds and lofts. These rails, also called bed rails, are the best way to prevent students from rolling out of beds. If students refuse, require them to sign an assumption of risk form stating they have declined to use the rail and were informed of the risks. If your institution requires rails, enforce this rule. For example, resident assistants and employees should take corrective action if they notice students have removed their rails.
- Encourage proper use of ladders. Advise students that ladders or other specifically designated equipment to enter and exit a bed offers the safe way to get into or out of a bunk or loft bed. Encourage students to report repairs or problems with their bed ladders. Inspect ladders annually to ensure they are properly affixed.
- Assure proper bed placement. Beds shouldn’t impede escape or rescue during a fire and must not obstruct windows. Improper placement also could cause injury from broken glass or a fall through a window.
- Create and enforce a policy. Your housing policy should state bunk and loft bed requirements, including the use of rails and ladders, bed placement, procedures for getting into and out of bed, and fire safety precautions. If your institution lets students convert beds into lofts or bunk beds, policies should state rules for constructing beds and approval of construction.
- Inspect and maintain beds, railings, and ladders. Provide inspections before the academic year begins. Keep written documentation of inspections and maintenance work. Follow up with noncomplying students to ensure corrective action is taken. Finally, encourage students to report needed repairs.
About the Author
Alyssa Keehan, Esq.
CPCU, ARM, Director of Risk Management Research & Consulting
Alyssa oversees the development of UE’s risk management content and consulting initiatives, ensuring reliable and trustworthy guidance for our members. Her areas of expertise include campus sexual misconduct, Title IX, threat assessment, campus security, contracts, and risk transfer. She previously handled UE liability claims and held positions in the fields of education and insurance.
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