CPSC: Mandatory federal tip-over standard takes effect May 24, 2023

Agency published notice of the rule in Nov. 25 Federal Register, prompting countdown to effective start date

WASHINGTON – The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s mandatory safety standard for clothing storage units has been published in the Federal Register, meaning that the clock is now ticking for the case goods industry to meet the standard.

According to the notice published Nov. 25, the rule becomes effective May 24, 2023, meaning the industry must meet the standard by that date.

According to the CPSC, it applies to freestanding items such as chests, bureaus, dressers, chests of drawers, drawer chests, door chests, chifforobes, armoires and wardrobes that are 27 inches and higher and have a mass greater than or equal to 57 pounds with all extendable components filled “with at least 8.5 per cubic foot times their functional volume and that has a total functional volume of the closed storage greater than 1.3 cubic feet…”

The safety standard is aimed at reducing injuries and deaths due to tip-overs associated with these and other units that are used to hold clothing and other items. Tip-overs occur when unattended children climb on units as they try to reach something at the top of the unit or in an upper drawer or on an upper shelf.

The 74-page rule in the Federal Register spells out reasons for the standard, including the number and types of fatalities and injuries resulting from tip-overs, how these incidents occur and the testing requirements for these units. It also notes that the stability requirements of the current voluntary standard, ASTM F2057-19 are not adequate to address tip-over hazards as they do not account for multiple open and filled drawers, carpeted flooring and “dynamic forces generated by children’s interactions with the CSU, such as climbing or pulling on a drawer.”

The American Home Furnishings Alliance notes that while the mandatory standard applies to the units noted above, which are commonly placed in youth or adult bedrooms, it is not limited to items that are marketed as clothing storage furniture.

In addition to units 27 inches and higher, the AHFA notes the standard also applies  to units with a total functional volume of closed storage that incudes drawers and interior cabinet space and open storage such as shelves that is greater than 1.3 cubic feet.

As AHFA noted in a release issued when the CPSC first approved the mandatory standard in late October, “nightstands, shelving units, office furniture, dining furniture, accent chests and any other type of storage furniture meeting this functional definition must be tested and labeled according to the requirements outlined in the rule.”

The CPSC also offered further details relating to the scope of the order published Friday.

“CSUs typically are intended and used for storing clothing and, therefore, they are commonly used in bedrooms,” it said in its Federal Register announcement. “However, consumers may also use CSUs in rooms other than bedrooms and to store items other than clothing in them. For this reason, whether a product is a CSU depends on whether it meets the criteria in the definition, rather than what the name of the product is or the marketed use for the product. The criteria in the definition regarding height and closed storage volume aim to address the utility of a unit for holding multiple clothing items.”

Unlike the current voluntary standard, which uses a 50-pound weight for testing purposes, the AHFA also noted that there no weight specified in the CPSC rule.

Under the CPSC’s testing requirements, the AHFA said, the person doing the testing applies weight to the unit until the piece tips. That force is then plugged into a formula to determine the unit’s tip-over moment.

The CPSC standard then applies that force to two other formulas the AHFA said are designed to account for the force of a child climbing the unit and the “dynamic force” of the child pulling on or playing on the unit. The unit’s tip-over moment “must be greater than these other calculated “threshold moments.”

This information is then used for a rating system between 1 and 2 that would be placed on a hangtag on the unit on the sales floor. Units scoring below a 1 would be considered non-compliant and subject to a recall.

The rule also spells out specific guidance that prohibits manufacturers from stockpiling units subject to the standard in order to prevent them from circumventing the overall purpose of the rule. Stockpiling is defined as “manufacturing or importing product between the date a rule is promulgated and its effective date that is significantly greater than the rate at which the product was produced or imported before the rule was promulgated.”

Another proposed mandatory safety standard for clothing storage units called STURDY (Stop Tip-Overs of Risky Dressers on Youth) also is being considered in Congress. The passage of this act would supersede the CPSC rule by making the CPSC adopt an updated voluntary standard — that the AHFA said has more measurable and consistently repeatable testing methods than the CPSC’s mandatory standard — as the mandatory stability standard as long as it meets the requirements of STURDY.

The Senate passed STURDY in late September, and the bill is now going through the reconciliation process in the House before being sent to the president’s desk for final passage.

The AHFA said in anticipation of the rule’s publication, three weeks ago, it invited the CPSC to participate in a workshop on the rule in North Carolina next month.

“The Safety Standard for Clothing Storage Units published by the CPSC on Friday is a very complex rule with a proposed minimum stability threshold that will generate many questions as manufacturers and importers attempt to implement it across a wide array of products,” AHFA CEO Andy Counts said. “A better understanding of the requirements in the final rule is critical, and a workshop would provide the agency with an excellent opportunity to provide clarity and constructive guidance.”

AHFA said it has not yet received any response from CPSC but remains prepared to host the workshop in December should the agency agree to participate.

To read more about the CPSC rule published Friday, click here.

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.

View all posts by Thomas Russell →

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