CPSC adopts rules to prevent furniture tip-over deaths

Photo (c) Jonathon Knowles - Getty Images

Falling furniture has killed 234 people since 2000

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has implemented new regulations that require furniture makers to meet a standard for safety and stability.

Specifically, dressers, armoires, wardrobes, and other clothing storage units must be made in such a way, or secured against a wall to prevent them from tipping over and crushing small children. These types of accidents occur more frequently than you might think.

According to the CPSC, 234 people, mostly children, have been killed by falling furniture since 2000. During that time 84,100 people have been injured by furniture tip-overs, averaging 5,300 injuries each year.

Congress passed a law late last year called  Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) that moved away from voluntary standards and toward mandatory requirements. It’s designed to protect children up to age six by setting requirements that include:

  • Tests for stability when the unit is placed on carpeting

  • Tests for stability with loaded drawers and with multiple drawers open

  • Tests that simulate the weight of children up to 60 pounds interacting with the unit

Increased vigilance 

“With the implementation of the new mandatory standard, I expect industry to shift their efforts to quickly comply with these new safety requirements,” said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. “The CPSC will be actively monitoring the marketplace and enforcing this important safety standard.”

A number of public interest groups, including Kids In Danger, pushed for the new mandatory standards. The group’s executive director, Nancy Cowles, said parents who lost children to tip-over accidents made significant contributions to the effort.

Child deaths from falling furniture have led to a number of furniture recalls over the years. One of the latest came in January 2021 when Chicago-based CB2 recalled about 11,355 Junction Tall Chests and Low Dressers sold in the U.S. and Canada. The company said it had received 10 reports of the chests and dressers falling but did not receive reports of any injuries.

Amid growing pressure, IKEA recalled Malm dressers in 2016 but not all of the recalled dressers were removed or anchored to the wall. By 2017 the dressers were believed to be responsible for eight deaths.

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