Letter to the editor: Furniture stability standard: It’s time to do better

“When you know better you should do better,” and the furniture industry has known for decades how to prevent tip-overs from occurring. Inaction to properly address this issue has resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries to children. The tide is finally turning as 2022 brought a new CPSC rule and passage of the STURDY Act. Now, the historical approach of looking for reasons to delay safety advancements must come to an end. If it doesn’t, the consequences could be severe. Severe consequences not only for children, but also for individual retailers and manufacturers who choose to ignore a soon-to-be-published updated voluntary standard.


Brett Horn

The recently passed STURDY Act requires the CPSC to promulgate a final rule for stability of clothing storage units (CSUs) within this year. The purpose of STURDY is to ensure that any furniture stability rule MUST protect children up to 72 months by addressing the widely known reasons furniture is still tipping over on children. Stability tests must include testing furniture with loaded and multiple drawers open at once, furniture placed on carpeted surfaces and the dynamic force a child applies when interacting with a CSU. STURDY further requires that the CPSC must determine if a voluntary standard exists which meets these requirements, and, if so, they must publish a final rule adopting the applicable performance requirements of that voluntary standard.  

The new ASTM voluntary standard

The passage of STURDY also triggered the final steps to publish a significantly improved voluntary stability standard, which is the ‘industry supported’ solution to address the reasons dressers are tipping. These life saving advancements within ASTM 2057-23 have been agreed upon for over a year, however, its publication has been held up due to an AHFA requested delay.  Until now, with recent approval, this updated ASTM standard has established a minimum to which all furniture manufacturers should immediately begin testing their CSUs to ensure safety.  With all this time to prepare for the voluntary standard which industry leaders helped develop and have asked the CPSC to adopt as the Federal mandatory standard, many wonder why any manufacturer is not already testing to this standard?  

Certain manufacturers have signaled a move toward safer products with compliance to this new standard, while others continue to delay. With consensus agreement and more than enough time, beginning in February, any manufacturer who is not fully compliant with the most up-to-date standard is making a conscious decision to delay implementation and ignore needed safety improvements, putting consumers at risk.

With yet another severe injury being recently reported, a 2½ year old girl in Virginia on Dec. 30, consumers are owed a higher duty of care. The stance that industry can wait on safety advancements because of “confusion” over what the final rule might be, is careless, as it fails to focus on the importance of immediate compliance to the voluntary standard. The furniture industry knows better; they must now do better.

Parents Against Tip-overs is excited about 2023 and the resolution of a final rule under the STURDY Act, as it will provide industry with what they have long requested … a mandatory standard and level playing field. In the meantime, we urge full industry compliance with the voluntary standard by both manufacturers and retailers as it will accomplish the primary goal of providing consumers and their children safer and more stable products, resulting in far fewer injuries and deaths. This is an accomplishment we can all be proud of.

Brett Horn is chairman of Parents Against Tip-Overs.

Editor’s note: The American Home Furnishings Alliance said that it didn’t make sense for a new voluntary standard to be published without STURDY being passed and signed into law. There was an administrative hold placed on any official updates until it passed the House and Senate. Officials then immediately removed the hold, which allowed ASTM to move forward with the standard which is expected to be published soon.

One thought on “Letter to the editor: Furniture stability standard: It’s time to do better

  1. So, does this tip over standard only apply to childrens furniture? What responsibility does a parent have to use the anti tip kits provided by manufacturers ? We are adding more regulation to the furniture industry but, does testing furniture and getting consumer compliance go hand in hand ? Should retailers have the consumer sign off and in doing this alerting the consumer to the fact that the package on the back of the piece needs to be used. I think there are ways to slow the damage to consumers without federal laws.

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