Furniture companies that sell defective products, which fail to comply with a standard aimed at reducing tip-overs, could face civil or criminal penalties, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warned. According to a report on Furniture Today, the CPSC directed the message to retailers, manufacturers, importers and distributors in a Feb. 27 letter addressing the dangers of furniture tip-overs. The federal standard is a voluntary one that addresses the safety and stability of clothing storage units over 30 inches tall.
Responsibility of Furniture Manufacturers
The federal agency said products that do not meet this standard could be considered as having a defect that represents a “substantial product hazard.” CPSC has also warned the furniture industry that if the agency learns of such products, it will initiate an investigation and seek “corrective action.” Manufacturers are required to report any product defects to the CPSC. However, if they don’t do so, they could face a civil penalty. In some cases, criminal penalties may apply if these violations were deliberate.
CPSC officials said they have received numerous reports of child deaths that occurred between 2000 and 2017 associated with clothing storage unit tip-overs. These are deaths that could have been prevented had the pieces of furniture been manufactured in compliance with the current standard, officials said. CPSC’s deputy executive director DeWane Ray said children face an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death from clothing storage units such as dressers that fall within the scope of the federal standard, but don’t meet its requirements.
The standard, ASTM F-2057-17, applies to all clothing storage units over 30 inches tall. To be considered compliant, the piece of furniture (dresser, chest) must pass two stability tests and have a permanent affixed warning label that is visible to consumers. The furniture must also be shipped with tip restraints with detailed instructions on how to install them.
How Can You Prevent Tip-Overs
Here are a few installation tips to prevent your furniture from tipping over:
- Buy furniture restraints, anchors or tethers from safety specialists if your piece of furniture did not come with it. Don’t use plastic ties that can degrade over time.
- Use two restraints per piece. Wider pieces might require additional restraints.
- Use a wood stud. Don’t attach a product with plastic drywall anchors.
- Ensure restraints are tight and check them regularly. There should be no slack in the furniture strap or anchor.
- If you are not sure how to install, get a professional child-proofing expert to help.
If your child has been injured by a defective piece of furniture, please contact an experienced product defect attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.