Stronger Furniture Tip-Over Standard Urged

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By Martina Barash

Aug. 9 — A voluntary standard aimed at preventing furniture from tipping over onto children is too weak and compliance with it is low, a report by two safety groups has concluded.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission should begin the process of creating a stronger, mandatory standard, the organizations—Kids in Danger and Shane's Foundation—also said in the Aug. 9 report.

The CPSC didn't provide comment to Bloomberg BNA by its publication deadline Aug. 9.

A representative for a group of home furnishing makers said he was reviewing the report.

IKEA North America conducted a recent high-profile recall of some of its products in June because of tip-over hazards (44 PSLR 679, 7/4/16).

There, the retailer recalled about 29 million chests and dressers in the U.S. and 6.6 million in Canada after the deaths of six children.

No Significant Improvements

“Years of work on the voluntary industry standard have resulted in no significant improvements,” Nancy Cowles, KID executive director, said in a statement Aug. 9 about the new report. “Our organizations hope this new information will provide the necessary impetus to design, test and sell safer furniture.”

Andy Counts, CEO of the American Home Furnishings Alliance, said in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg BNA Aug. 9 that he was still reviewing the report but that the trade association and its members “have emphasized the importance of industry-wide compliance with the voluntary furniture stability standard and have supported Consumer Product Safety Commission action to address non-compliant products.”

AHFA member companies have been heavily involved in the work of the subcommittee of ASTM International, the standard-setting body, that drafted and revised the furniture standard, Counts said.

“Both Kids in Danger and Shane's Foundation are important participants on that subcommittee, and AHFA looks forward to continuing to work with these organizations and the CPSC to strengthen the standard as needed, based on incident data from the CPSC,” he said.

Patricia Bowling, a spokeswoman for the AHFA, told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail that the CPSC also has representatives on the ASTM subcommittee. The CPSC and the two safety groups all “participated in drafting the original furniture stability standard and in updating it as the subcommittee has deemed necessary,” she said.

Once Every Two Weeks

The groups reached their conclusions after analyzing incident data and testing chests and dressers. Chests have greater height than width, while dressers are shorter and may have side-by-side drawers, the report said.

Two-year-old children are most affected by tip-overs, especially fatal ones, the report said. Twelve percent of all incidents are fatal, according to the report.

The CPSC estimates that fatalities occur about once every two weeks, according to the report.

KID conducted testing “to see whether red flags were raised when the units were tested based on both the current voluntary standards and according to KID's enhanced protocol” for testing, the report said. The added testing protocol aimed to mimic conditions like full drawers and foreseeable uses such as children pulling multiple drawers open, it said.

KID tested seven dressers and 12 chests, according to the report.

Of these 19 units, only two passed all the tests, the report said. One of those doesn't comply with the ASTM standard because it doesn't come with a device to tether it to a wall, the report said

Nine units failed the ASTM tests, the report said.

The report recommended design changes, additional tests in the voluntary standard and other measures. It also said the CPSC should take the first steps toward a mandatory standard.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina S. Barash in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at

For More Information

The report is available at

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