Consumer Reports: Current Standards for Furniture Tip-Overs Leave Too Many Children at Risk

Experts

Senior Policy Analyst
Sr. Director, Strategic Communications

Thursday, March 22, 2018

– CR calls for strong, mandatory standards to prevent child injuries, deaths

– CR petition calls on furniture industry to update standards for safer dressers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Every 17 minutes, someone in the United States is injured when furniture, a TV, or an appliance tips over.  Many of those injured are young children who may climb on or play inside a dresser or other kinds of furniture used for storing clothes.  In 2016, there were an estimated 2,800 tip-over injuries involving children younger than age 6 and these products.  Between 2000 and 2016, nearly 200 people died as a direct result of these products tipping over, and the vast majority were young kids.  Currently, the industry’s safety standards for furniture tip-overs are only voluntary, not mandatory — and as a new Consumer Reports investigation has found, these standards don’t do enough to protect our children.

With child injuries on the rise and no tip-over laws on the books, Consumer Reports today published a year-long investigation into furniture tip-overs, including tests of 24 different dressers representing a cross-section of the market.  CR also analyzed thousands of incident reports obtained from the Consumer Product Safety Commission through a Freedom of Information Act request, and reporters interviewed parents of children who died from tip-overs, safety advocates, and industry representatives.

Consumer Reports’ investigation concluded that the current voluntary industry standard is inadequate.  At the same time, CR found that 13 of the 24 dressers passed CR’s most rigorous test — showing that it is feasible for manufacturers to design a dresser at various prices that is safer and more stable.

CR today is calling for a stronger, mandatory standard for furniture in order to help avoid tip-over injuries and deaths.  In the meantime CR is urging industry to improve its voluntary standard, so that it raises the bar for furniture stability, covers a wider variety of dressers based on height and weight, and ultimately recommends clear labels on the package to show that a product meets the stronger standard.  On the basis of CR’s investigation and testing, the organization is calling for a standard that has a test weight of 60 pounds and includes dressers 30 inches and shorter.

“These standards should be updated without delay to better protect children,” said William Wallace, Senior Policy Analyst for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “A strong mandatory standard would be easier to enforce, and help consumers trust that dressers would resist tipping over. Until that’s in place, it’s critical for manufacturers to commit voluntarily to build safer, more stable dressers. CR’s investigation has shown they can and should do so — immediately.”

With today’s publication of its investigation, Consumer Reports is launching a national petition aimed at the American Home Furnishings Alliance, a trade association for furniture manufacturers, to call on them to update safety standards to help avoid tip-over deaths and injuries.

CR said the most effective way to prevent tip-overs is to secure dressers to walls, but the organization recognizes that it is not always an option for tenants or those who are not handy with tools.  According to CR, it is industry’s responsibility to ensure safer, more stable dressers — and safety should not rely on a person’s skill at anchoring a dresser to a wall.

The full story is available at www.CR.org/tipover.

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Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.