Letters urge CPSC to implement STURDY Act

Parent groups, elected officials and AHFA ask agency to perform a prompt review of updated stability standard for clothing storage units as it meets the requirements of STURDY

HIGH POINT – Parent and consumer safety groups along with legislators and industry advocates have submitted letters to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission urging the agency to consider a prompt review of an updated safety standard for clothing storage units as required by the STUDY (Stop Tip-Overs of Risky Dressers on Youth) Act signed into law in late December.

The groups include Parents Against Tip-Overs, which along with the American Home Furnishings Alliance, submitted such a letter to the CPSC in early February; Kids In Danger and Consumer Reports, which submitted a letter March 6; and a group of Senators who submitted a letter on March 7.

Noting that it meets the requirements of STURDY, each letter strongly urges the CPSC to consider the revised updated standard, ASTM F2057-23, which was published in early February. As it meets the requirements of STURDY, the proponents urge the CPSC to adopt the performance requirements as the mandatory standard.

On behalf of its retail membership, the Home Furnishings Association wrote a similar letter dated March 6 urging the CPSC to adopt ASTM F-2057 as the federal safety standard for clothing storage units.

The goal of STURDY is to significantly reduce tip-overs of clothing storage units that have been known to injure and kill children and some adults. Introduced by Sen. Bob Casey and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, it involved years of negotiations between bereaved parents, consumer advocates and industry groups including AHFA.

The CPSC, however, has instead been pushing for its own mandatory standard published in late November 2022. Officials say this will be difficult for the case goods industry to meet, particularly as it involves significant reengineering of pieces including the addition of interlocking drawer mechanisms that fail in drop tests and additional weight that will be expensive and difficult to ship and deliver to people’s homes. That rule goes into effect for goods manufactured after May 24.

By comparison, observers note, the testing that would occur under the updated ASTM standard that meets the requirements of STURDY accounts for real world use such as carpeted flooring as well as loaded drawers, multiple drawers open at once and the dynamic force of a child climbing on the unit. They also say it is a repeatable and consistent pass-fail test that determines actual compliance versus a sliding scale of more or less stable used in the CPSC standard.

The AHFA said according to STURDY, if a voluntary standard exists that meets the requirements outlined in the law, CPSC must adopt that voluntary standard as the mandatory standard. But officials note that STURDY gives CPSC the last word on that determination.

CPSC has not responded to Home News Now’s request for comment on its plans to review the updated voluntary standard and whether it will delay the May 24 implementation date for the CPSC mandatory standard. It also has not responded to a request for comment in response to the recently submitted letters.

“We appreciate the time and energy the CPSC has dedicated in recent years to understanding furniture tip-overs in order to protect children,” states the March 6 letter from Consumer Reports and KID. “The STURDY Act provides an opportunity for the CPSC to rely upon ASTM F2057-23 if it meets the requirements of the STURDY Act. We are confident that it does.”

“Testing by both KID and CR, using elements of the new voluntary standard, show that units on the market that meet the performance requirements of the 2019 standard would fail under the more rigorous requirements of the 2023 standard, underscoring the additional layers of protection the new evaluations provide,” the letter continued. “The tests included in ASTM F2057-23 account for real-world use and impacts on stability from various child interactions. The tests have simple pass-fail criteria, making determining compliance easy for testers. As is required under the STURDY Act, ASTM F2057-23 was developed in consultation with representatives from consumer groups, safety professionals, clothing storage unit manufacturers, and other furniture industry representatives, and it is widely supported.”

Mark Schumacher, CEO of the HFA, sent Home News Now a copy of the letter it sent to the CPSC this week.

In it he states, “Retailers are a critical safety link for consumers and manufacturers as their staff must educate their customers on product hazards within the home. Their understanding of the design and safety of these products is imperative so they can help consumers make informed choices. The confusion created by competing rules is making it nearly impossible for retailers to know what they need to communicate internally and externally. That impacts the trust they garner with their customer base. We urge you to adopt the ASTM 2057-2023 revisions as the federal safety standard for clothing storage units. It is the most reasonable, effective way forward; the consensus solution that does what all of us, CPSC included, want and that is for every American family to have access to safe and
affordable products.”

Read the AHFA press release on the issue along with each of the letters here:

The HFA letter is reproduced in full below.

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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