Tip-over dominates case goods conversations at Las Vegas Market

Companies want to comply, but are awaiting final word on what exact standard they should follow — CPSC or STURDY

LAS VEGAS — Discussions at many case goods showrooms here at Market are focusing on how the industry plans to comply with new mandatory federal tip-over standards expected to take effect this year.

In some cases, the discussions are ending with more questions than answers as the industry has two distinct rules to follow related to the safety of clothing storage units such as chests, dressers and nightstands.

One is the standard from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission published in late November that takes effect May 24. The other is STURDY (Stop Tip-Overs of Risky Dressers on Youth) legislation signed into law in December. Both aim to reduce tip-over incidents known to injure and kill children.

Some case goods resources that have studied both measures have told Home News Now that each accounts for things like the units being placed on carpeted surfaces, drawers filled or partially filled with clothing and the dynamic force of a child climbing on the unit.

A key difference is that the CPSC mandate uses a sliding scale of more or less stable, which reportedly involves a more complex formula to achieve the highest rating. The CPSC also has different complex testing methods for individual types and sizes of case pieces, while the new soon-to-be-published ASTM standard is a pass/fail test that determines if a unit is compliant or not.

Many in the industry oppose the CPSC approach as they don’t believe it shows actual compliance. The American Home Furnishings Alliance also opposes the rule because of its complex process of determining a unit’s “stability rating,” which it says adds “unnecessary ambiguity to compliance efforts.”

And because of variability with the prescribed testing methods, it has said it knows of no test lab that would agree to perform third-party verification of a manufacturer’s test results.

The CPSC held an information session this week to demonstrate its proposed testing methods. AHFA also submitted 16 pages of questions its members had relating to the standard and the testing methodologies.

Resources here at Market said that the issue is not necessarily stifling business in the bedroom category as the CPSC rule will impact products made on or after May 24. The CPSC is also considering how to incorporate STURDY into its mandatory standard and that process could take months.

“It hasn’t seemed to hold up anything,” said Ian Geltner, vice president of sales at Steve Silver, related to sales activity in the bedroom category at market. “But I do feel that we are on the precipice that something has to give.”

Most resources interviewed here at Market also said they are working tirelessly to prepare for the May 24 deadline set by the CPSC as the agency figures out how to incorporate elements of STURDY into their rule.

Speaking largely off the record, these companies said they are doing their best to educate their sales forces on the issue so they can answer questions for retailers here at Market, many of whom want to make sure they are selling compliant goods on their floors.

Some sources say that a key component is adding weight to the bottom/back of the case in the form of additional wood or concrete.

Estimates on how much this will add to a dresser or chest vary widely, with some claiming it will add 30 to 50 pounds, while others say it could add over 100 pounds. The variation in weight and even testing methods for each item is due to the size and footprint of different pieces, sources note, which further complicates the development and production process as each piece essentially has to be engineered to meet the CPSC standard.

Many say that the higher weight also would likely compromise the structural integrity of cardboard cartons and other packaging, not to mention add to the difficulty and cost of moving goods into homes or apartments.

The added weight also could add to shipping costs, whether on vessels coming from Asia or other parts of the world, or by truck from various ports to destinations across the U.S.

Perhaps most importantly, some are concerned that extra weight added to the case could result in more child injuries and deaths as neither STURDY nor the CPSC mandate will totally eliminate tip-over incidents. The only real way to accomplish that is anchoring a unit to a stud or multiple studs in the wall.

Others said they are considering shortening the extension of drawers from full extension to a partial extension. This, by sheer physics, could reduce instances of the unit tipping when a child climbs up the case to reach something in an upper drawer or on top of the unit.

Another option some are considering is the use of an interlocking drawer system, similar to what’s used in file cabinets in commercial and home office uses. However, while some companies have done mock-ups of this type of construction, some units are said to have failed drop tests that dismantled the interlock system. Piecing this back together could be a timely and expensive process, sources say.

While many are working toward developing and testing their products to the new standard, they are eagerly awaiting final word from the CPSC.

The message to dealers? We’ll be compliant even if the path forward isn’t entirely clear right now.

“Our position is tell us what to do and we will do it,” said Tim Newlin, vice president of strategic business development at Flexsteel, who noted that the company has identified items in the line that will be impacted by the new standard and is monitoring the situation closely to make sure it is fully compliant with the new standard. “But we are not going to go down a path without the final answer.”

ASTM International will soon publish its new updated voluntary standard that meets the requirements of STURDY. Once that is published in mid-February, the CPSC will determine which aspects of STURDY it wants to incorporate into the stability standard for clothing storage units. Once it makes a determination the agency has until the end of this year to get the standard finalized.

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 →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our Newsletter for breaking news, special features and early access to all the industry stories that matter!

Sponsored By: