Kid-Proofing: Making Domestic Furniture Safe and Compliant in the US
In January 2020, a large furniture retailer in the US agreed to pay USD 46 million to the parents of a child who died when a chest of drawers fell on him.i The product in question had already been recalled a year earlier following similar incidents. Manufacturers need to ensure furniture is ‘kid-proof’ but how do they do that?
Commenting after the settlement agreement, the parents of the child stated: “We never thought that a two-year-old could cause a dresser just 30 inches (76cm) high to topple over and suffocate him.”
Unfortunately, statistics show children are extremely vulnerable when it comes to toppling household objects. In November 2019, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a statement entitled:
“Statistics Show Nearly 80% of All Furniture, TV and Appliance Tip-Over Fatalities Involve Children 5 Years Old and Younger.”ii
Their statistics showed a total of 459 children were reported to have died due to tip-over injuries between 2000 and 2018, the vast majority involving children aged five or less.iii The sad truth is, on average, in the US, tip-over events injure a child every 43 minutes and two or three die every month.iv
Tip-over accidents can, however, be easily avoided.
In 2015, the CPSC launched “Anchor It” – a national public education campaign to prevent furniture and TV tip-overs from killing and seriously injuring children.v The campaign offers simple, cheap but effective advice to help consumers ensure their homes are safe.vi As part of its wider aims, it issues warnings to coincide with public events.vii
The “Anchor It!” website includes advice for both parents and caregiversviii, and retailers and manufacturers.ix For US markets, the CPSC recommends adherence to the standard ASTM F2057 for furniture and ASTM F3096 for anchoring or tip-over restrain systems.x
In February 2019, the CPSC’s Deputy Executive Director, DeWane Ray, published a letter to the furniture industry strongly urging adherence to clothing storage unit standard – ASTM F2057-17, Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Unit.xi While ASTM F2057 is not technically a mandatory standard, the letter made it clear that clothing storage units failing to comply with the standard would be considered “defective”. In effect, this voluntary standard has been made mandatory. Stakeholders should be aware there have already been instances where the CPSC has recalled furniture that fails to comply with the standard, even when no serious accidents have occurred.
In some parts of the US, the standard is already been included in legislation. In New York State, the passing of ‘Harpers’ Law’ in May 2019 means retailers can only sell clothing storage units that conform to ASTM F2057. Non-compliant units must be sold with a permanent warning label and tipping restraint.xii
The latest version of ASTM F2057 was released in 2019.xiii It covers a variety of clothing storage unit types: chests, chests of drawers, drawer chests, armoires, chifferobes, bureaus, door chests and dressers that are 27 inches (686 mm) in height or above.xiv It is noticeable that this standard, although restricted in scope to clothing storage units, is now being used by industry for a variety of other furniture products, including dining/living room storage, bookcases and utility storage.
SGS provides a comprehensive range of consultation, testing, inspection, certification and auditing solutions to the furniture industry. From development to the shop floor, we have the capabilities in place to help you produce furniture that is safe and complies with the relevant standards enforced by your target market. These standards differ between markets, but our experts have the regulatory expertise to ensure your products comply with the right standards.
Testing solutions include:
- Mechanical testing – including ASTM F2057
- Chemical testing
- Flammability testing
- Finishing testing
- Performance testing
- Textile testing
As a complimentary service, SGS also holds webinars throughout the year to help manufacturers understand and comply with relevant standards and market requirements around the world.
Learn more about SGS Furniture Services.
For more information, please contact:
Senior Technical Manager
Consumer and Retail
t: +1 973 575 5252