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CPSC May Push New Furniture Tip-Over Rules If Industry Does Not Police Itself

Following a number of severe injuries, deaths and high profile recalls, federal regulators are considering more stringent furniture safety standards, which would attempt to prevent tip-over accidents that continue cause pose a serious risk for children nationwide. 

During a conference call last month, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Elliot Kaye said that current voluntary safety standards are insufficient in preventing tip-over accidents, indicating that the agency needs to enact mandatory standards. The statements came on the heels of a CPSC staff brief, which detailed how the current rules appeared to be ineffective at preventing furniture tip over injuries and deaths.

“Based on the 2,600 estimated emergency department-treated injuries involving only chests, bureaus, or dressers falling on children and the 97 furniture tip-over-related fatalities to children from 2000 to 2015, staff believes that more work needs to be done to effectively address the risk of tip-over incidents,” the briefing concludes.

CPSC staffers said they are attempting to work with the ASTM International (previously the American Society for Testing and Materials before becoming an international standards group) to develop more effective standards.

The staffers said they are attempting to get ASTM International to put voluntary standards in place that would increase the test weight from 50 lbs. to 60 lbs., add tip restraint performance requirements, modify warning labels and update testing methods.

Furniture tip over accidents have gained substantial attention from federal regulators in recent years, following a number of incidents involving young children who were severely injured or killed when pinned beneath a heavy furniture piece that tipped over..

Children are inherently more susceptible to tip-over accidents from climbing and reaching for items at the top of dressers, or television stands, whether it is for a remote, gaming equipment or toys. The CPSC recommends that parents never leave items desirable to children on dressers and other top heavy furniture that would entice the child to try and climb or reach for them.

Thus far, the parents of two children killed by IKEA MALM dressers have filed lawsuits against the company, seeking compensation for their losses and to bring awareness to the potential dangers the MALM line of furniture poses to children.

Previous CPSC data has indicated that furniture and TV tip-over accidents have caused 430 deaths over the last 13 years and account for roughly 38,000 emergency rooms visits annually. As part of recent efforts to raise awareness about the risk of furniture tip over accidents, the commission indicated that at least one child dies every two weeks and another child is injured every 24 minutes in the U.S. from heavy furniture or televisions tipping over.

In June, an IKEA recall pulled more than 35 million child and adult chests and dressers from the market. The recall came after at least 17 injuries and three deaths were linked to its MALM dressers

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