Despite the recent death of a two year-old child who was crushed under an IKEA Hemnes dresser that tippied over, the furniture retailer continues to maintain that it’s dressers are safe, following years of concerns about instability that have previously been linked to dozens of injuries and other deaths.
The watchdog group Consumer Reports released a report this week, noting that IKEA Hemnes dressers passed voluntary safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), but still present a serious tip-over injury risks for children.
In June 2016, IKEA was involved in one of the world’s largest furniture recalls, involving more than 35 million MALM series dressers that Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) officials found to be in violation of the industry standards. The standards require furniture over a specified height to be anchored to walls to prevent tip-over hazards to consumers.
That IKEA recall was initiated after at least 41 reports were received of the chests and dressers tipping over, resulting in at least 17 injuries and three deaths prior to June 2016. Since June 2016, the agency has received at least another 113 consumer reports of the pieces of furniture tipping over, resulting in 53 more reported injuries to children and eight fatalities.
Since the recall of the MALM 3-drawer, 4-drawer, 5-drawer and all 6-drawer models, IKEA has steadily worked in conjunction with CPSC officials to distribute wall anchoring kits to consumers with impacted furniture pieces.
However, Consumer Reports warns that additional IKEA furniture, including the Hemnes series 8-drawer dressers remain available for sale in stores despite their association with the tip-over death of a two year old, and another separate incident of a Hemnes dresser tipping over on two 2-year old boys who escaped being pinned.
According to Consumer Reports, an eight-drawer Hemnes model fell on a two year-old Florida child in May 2017. His mother found him unresponsive under the dresser. Just five months earlier, twin two-year old brothers in Utah were caught on video climbing on an IKEA Hemnes series dresser that tipped over on them. Both boys managed to survive as the one child can be seen pushing the dresser off of his pinned brother in the video.
Although IKEA was notified of both incidents, the manufacturer refuses to announce a recall or stop sales of the Hemnes series dresser, saying that it meets the ASTM safety standards.
ASTM safety standards hold that dressers over a certain height must be able to carry a 50 pound weight on the dressers when opened without tipping. IKEA maintains the dressers pass this test, not warranting a recall.
Consumer Reports indicates that this is a clear scenario where voluntary standards may not be sufficient to keep the public safe, and could even offer a false sense of security to consumers.
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.