CPSC approves mandatory safety standard for clothing storage units

Measure aims to help prevent fatalities and injuries related to tip-overs

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has approved a new federal mandatory safety standard for clothing storage units that the agency says will significantly change the way clothing storage units are tested and labeled.

On Oct. 19, the commission voted 3 to 1 to approve the standard. It would take effect 180 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

The goal is to prevent tip-over incidents that the CPSC said has resulted in 234 deaths from January 2000 through April 2022. This figure includes 199 child fatalities.

CPSC staff also estimates that there have been 84,100 tip-over-related injuries involving clothing storage units that were treated in a U.S. hospital emergency department from 2006 through 2021. Some 72% of these incidents involved children.

In addition, the CPSC noted, there have been 43 recalls related to tip-over hazards involving clothing storage units between January 2000 and July 2022. More than 21 million units were involved.

The new standard would require clothing storage units including dressers, chests and nightstands to exceed minimum stability requirements and display safety information and performance and technical data, the CPSC said.

The stability requirements specifically involve tests that aim to mirror real-world use and situations including with multiple drawers open, drawers containing articles, and angling the units to replicate their placement on a carpeted surface. The tests also would reflect the impact of dynamic force that a child exerts when climbing on or pulling on a clothing storage unit.

Such factors, the CPSC said, are shown to occur during tip-over incidents and contribute to the instability of clothing storage units.

“Each year, children are killed or injured in dresser tip-over incidents,” said CPSC Chairman Alex Hoehn-Saric. “The standard set today will ensure that dressers are safer and fewer children are at risk. I want to thank the members of Parents Against Tip-overs and other consumer advocates who have spent years pushing the agency to set a strong standard that will protect children going forward. I am pleased that the CPSC was able to achieve that goal and commend the staff for their hard work and dedication.”

Child safety advocacy groups applauded the CPSC’s approval of the mandatory standard, noting that the current voluntary standard, ASTM F-2057, was “weak and not effective enough to prevent tip-overs.” These groups include the Consumer Federation of America and Kids In Danger, which have urged the CPSC to finalize a mandatory safety standard for clothing storage units for many years.

“The CPSC’s final vote today will prevent child deaths and injuries due to furniture tip-overs, and could not have been possible without the yearslong advocacy of parents who have lost children to tip-overs,” said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger. “The wait for safer furniture will soon be over, and we urge strong compliance actions by CPSC to make it a reality.” 

“We applaud today’s CPSC vote to finalize a rule for furniture stability. This decision is profound and will save lives,” added Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel with Consumer Federation of America. “Too many children have died and too many families have suffered tragic losses due to furniture tip-overs. Their unimaginable losses and tireless advocacy have made this rule a reality.”

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at tom@homenewsnow.com and at 336-508-4616.

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