In 2014, an American report about televisions, appliances and furniture highlighted the potential for instability that could – and did – lead to “tip-over” injuries and fatalities.
For furniture manufacturers, the most shocking revelation was that 430 fatalities attributable to tip-over were reported in the US between 2000 and 2013. Although no comparable research has yet been published in Europe, there’s no doubt that similar accidents occur – indeed, some have been reported in the media.
Furniture manufacturers who want to sell their products in the US and Europe (and worldwide) need to know which regulations apply in those markets – and to discover how to make their products safer and prevent fatalities.
USA: Voluntary Compliance and Limited Legal Limits
US standards are voluntary although furniture manufacturers must ensure their products comply with the Consumer Product Safety Act. This declares that products distributed in the United States must be safe under reasonable, foreseeable use.
The only standard that specifies methods for testing clothing storage furniture is ASTM 2057. A first basic test is conducted on the item unloaded, to ensure it does not fall or tip over when all of its doors and drawers are opened. For the second test, the furniture is loaded with a 23 kg weight (that represents a five year-old child) at different positions on drawers and/or doors.
The standard also requires that any tip-over restraints used on the product fulfill ASTM F3096, and that a warning label (explaining how to limit the risk of instability) is applied. It’s worth noting that the stability requirements only account for the behavior of children, and that the product is not tested for the possibility of adults resting upon it.
EU: Voluntary Compliance to a Newly Revised Standard
In 2016, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) published EN14749:2016 in relation to furniture. This reinforces the requirements for the stability of storage furniture, and adds some tests specifically for TV furniture. EN 16122:2012 is now the reference point for the test methods.
The European standard now includes six different stability tests, representing different uses of the product: doors and drawers open or closed; product loaded and unloaded; force applied vertically on the top, on drawers and doors. The new version of the standard also adds in some requirements about the information provided within the assembly instructions.
Attaching the furniture to the wall can be an option to further ensure stability, even if the stability tests that have taken place are not conclusive, so long as the assembly instructions are clear and include a warning. Of course, these inclusions provide no guarantee that the consumer will attach the product to the wall properly and safely.
Although the application of this standard is voluntary, products must still comply with the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) 2001/95/EC. This applies in the absence of specific European regulations regarding the safety of certain product categories.
We advise furniture manufacturers to follow the standard requirements that take into account the potential behavior of all consumers. We also recommend that if the furniture can be fixed to the wall, the relevant information is made available at the point of sale and clearly shows the potential hazard.
We also suggest that manufacturers test baby changing units once they have been changed into a chest of drawers.
Why Choose SGS?
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, recognized globally as the benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 85,000 employees, we operate a network of more than 1,800 offices and laboratories around the world.
SGS has testing capabilities for storage furniture and kitchen furniture in the following locations:
- Asia: China (Shunde, Shanghai, Anji, Xiamen), Hong Kong, Taiwan (Taipei)
- Europe: France (Aix en Provence), Germany (Taunusstein)
- Americas: USA (New Jersey, Fairfield)
We can perform tests on furniture designed for the juvenile market in:
- Asia: China (Guangzhou, Shanghai), Taiwan (Taipei), Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh)
- Europe: France (Aix en Provence), UK (Bradford)
- Americas: USA (New Jersey, Fairfield), Brazil (Barueri)
When testing storage units such as wardrobes and cabinets, SGS considers a range of criteria. These include the physical characteristics (dimensions and weight), the construction quality (potential for finger entrapment, cuts and so on), performance (the strength of shelves, doors, wall mounts and more), and other factors such as finishing or chemicals.
Tests are carried out in accordance with the relevant standards, which vary according to the destination market.
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For further information, please contact:
Global Furniture Expert
SGS CTS (France)
t +33 4 42 97 64 47
Global Juvenile Products Expert
SGS CTS (France)
t +33 4 42 61 64 57