2022: The year in furniture recalls

Does a drop in the number of recalls mean that the industry is producing safer products?

WASHINGTON — Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission showed there were fewer recalls involving residential furnishings in 2022 compared to the year before, one slight indication that the category could be posing less of a threat to consumers in their homes.

According to a recent review of CPSC recall information by Home News Now, there were 15 recalls of 253,951 furniture and bedding products in 2022, compared to 19 recalls of 1.12 million products in 2021.

So was 2022 a safer year for consumers in the home furnishings category? That depends on how you look at the numbers.

Although in 2022 there were less than a quarter of the units recalled the year before, there were far more injuries reported that year, ranging from bruises to lacerations and bone fractures.

For example, in 2021, there were 68 injuries reported in relation to the 19 actual recalls. By comparison, there were 159 injuries reported in 2022 in relation to the 15 total recalls.

In each year there was also one death tied to a respective recall, including one child death reported due to an entrapment and strangulation hazard involving a Longwood Forest bunk bed recalled in 2021 and one adult death reported with a Bestar wall bed that detached from the wall. That product was recalled in April 2022.

Of course this snapshot doesn’t reveal the exact number of incidents resulting from tip-overs, a subject of great debate among parent groups, the industry and the CPSC, as the industry will need to comply with a new mandatory standard this year.

In 2022, for example, there were only two tip-over related recalls including one involving a nine-drawer dresser from Samson International and one involving a chest of drawers from BFG N.C.

But given that there is often a two-year lag between when an incident occurs and when it is first reported to the CPSC, the tip-over numbers in the latest recall reports are inconclusive at best relating to the actual number of incidents in recent years.

The good news, according to the CPSC’s latest report issued in early 2022, is that the number of furniture related tip-over injuries requiring emergency room care has fallen in the past decade, from nearly 40,000 in 2012 to about 18,100 in 2020, many of which involved children.

Children also account for the largest number of tip-over deaths involving furniture, but here too the number has also fallen. According to the CPSC’s latest report, there were 12 child deaths relating to furniture tip-overs in 2014, followed by six in 2015, 10 in 2016, three in 2017 and two in 2018. There were four reported in 2019, but that, along with data for 2020 is considered incomplete.

What factors may have led to these declines is uncertain although the CPSC and others including the American Home Furnishings Alliance have been aggressively communicating the dangers of tip-over, including the need to anchor units to the wall.

Both have also supported a mandatory standard, although which exact standard they support — the CPSC standard or STURDY Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in late December — has been a subject of industry discussion lately including coverage here at Home News Now.

Other recalls in the past year also will likely continue to result in debate and possible discussion of new mandatory safety standards in the future. For example, one of the biggest recalls in 2022 was due to a fall and injury hazard associated with wall beds. In early April, Bestar recalled 129,000 of these units in the U.S. and 53,000 in Canada after it learned of one fatality involving a senior citizen and 60 additional incidents resulting in bruises and other injuries that occurred when the units detached from the wall after not being installed properly.

Another company, Cyme Tech, recalled 8,200 wall beds in early September in response to 146 reports of its wall beds falling after detaching from the wall. These incidents resulted in 62 injuries, according to the company and the CPSC.

Other key hazards in the marketplace as seen in the recall report include entrapment and strangulation hazards relating to bunk beds and cribs as well as fall hazards associated with chairs and the failure to meet federal flammability standards for mattresses.

Tip-over will continue to be the biggest issue affecting the case goods industry this year and beyond. But for the sake of consumer safety, wholesalers and retailers alike need to be aware of other issues too as seen with recalls in the past year alone.

Being aware of the issues leading to these unfortunate situations and meeting the standards that aim to prevent them in the first place can go a long way to keeping your company from being named in a recall — or worse still — being tied to a consumer injury or death.

In the coming year and beyond, Home News Now will continue to cover related product safety issues and thus keep relevant information at the forefront as part of an effort to help the industry remain proactive in keeping their products safe for consumers now and in the future.

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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