The US CPSC has determined that there is an unreasonable risk of injury and death, particularly to children, associated with clothing storage units tipping over. This rule requires them to be tested for stability.
In a vote of 3-1, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has adopted the ASTM F2057-23 voluntary safety standard as a mandatory requirement. The vote means that the new standard will be published in the federal register, replacing the CPSC rule (16 CFR 1261) set to go into effect on May 24, 2023. The publication in the register opens a 30-day comment period. Unless there are adverse comments requiring a response from the CPSC, the direct final rule will come into effect on September 1, 2023.
The CPSC's decision to adopt the ASTM standard was welcomed by stakeholders who advocated for safety standards for clothing storage.
The new standard is part of efforts to implement the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act, which aims to protect children from furniture tip-overs. The STURDY Act requires the CPSC to adopt a mandatory stability standard that uses a test weight of 60 pounds and simulates real-world use. The STURDY Act also requires clothing storage units (CSU) to pass objective, repeatable and measurable tests that simulate real-world use, taking into account the weight of small children, impact on stability resulting from placement on carpeted surfaces, drawers with items in them, multiple open drawers, and dynamic forces.
CPSC staff are aware of 234 fatalities resulting from CSU tip overs between January 2000 and April 2022, including 199 child fatalities. Product instability that leads to a tip-over incident can be caused or affected by an unstable dresser design, use on a sloped or unstable surface, such as carpet, not using a restraint device or using a defective tip-over restraint device, heavy objects placed on top of a dresser such as a TV, or multiple dresser drawers opened simultaneously.
The rule applies to CSUs that are freestanding furniture items, typically used for storing clothes. Examples of CSUs include but are not limited to chests, chests of drawers, drawer chests, armoires, chifforobes, bureaus, door chests and dressers. It does not cover shelving units, such as bookcases or entertainment furniture, office furniture, dining room furniture, jewelry armoires, underbed drawer storage units, occasional/accent furniture not intended for bedroom use, laundry storage/sorting units, or built-in units intended to be permanently attached to the building.
The standard defines a CSU as a freestanding furniture item with drawer(s) and/or door(s), that may be reasonably expected to be used for storing clothing, that possesses the following attributes:
- Designed to be configured to greater than or equal to 27 inches (686 mm) in height
- Has a mass greater than or equal to 30 pounds (13.6 kg) in mass, and
- Has a total functional volume of the enclosed storage greater than 3.2 cubic feet (90.6 dm3)
Important considerations that distinguish the rule from other stability methods include:
- Placing the CSU on a test block to replicate the tilt induced by carpeted floor
- Testing with drawers loaded with 8.5 pounds of weight per cubic foot (0.136 kg/dm3) to simulate drawers filled with clothing
- A separate strength test for units with interlocks
In conclusion, the adoption of the ASTM F2057-23 safety standard as mandatory by the CPSC is a significant step towards protecting children from furniture tip-overs. The STURDY Act, which aims to make the stability standard mandatory for CSU, has enjoyed popular and extensive support from stakeholders. The implementation of the new standard is expected to have a positive impact on the safety of furniture products and prevent tip-over incidents that can cause harm to children.
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