Companies are now preparing to meet new ASTM F2057-23 standard, which they say requires less weight and fewer changes to individual clothing storage units
HIGH POINT — Case goods resources here at the April High Point Market universally applauded last week’s vote by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to accept ASTM F2057-23 as the new federal standard for clothing storage unit stability aimed at reducing tip-over incidents that injure and kill children.
While no one said the standard is easy to pass, sources believe it is much more feasible to achieve consistent results with a straight-forward pass/fail test.
By comparison, the CPSC standard involved a test that used the tip-over moment to then apply a series of formulas to determine whether it met a minimum rating on a one-to-two scale. This, sources said, often resulted in differing results for the same piece of furniture despite efforts to test it in the same manner each time.
At market companies talked about how they plan to comply with the new ASTM F2057-23 standard, which meets the requirements of the STURDY (Stop Tip-Overs of Risky Dressers on Youth) Act that was signed into law in late December. Industry observers believe it will take effect by early to mid-September, about four months after the original May 24 target date for the CPSC rule.
For many, achieving compliance will mean adding weight to the back of the case to pass a 60-pound weight test, compared to a 50 pound weight requirement for the previous ASTM standard.
Almost universally, importers and manufacturers alike said that the updated ASTM standard will require roughly half the weight as the CPSC standard. This comes as a relief to retailers concerned about injuries to delivery personnel needing to haul much heavier chests, dressers and even nightstands up flights of stairs in peoples’ homes.
“The main thing we will be able to do is remove weight from the back bottom of the case, and where we were telling everyone at premarket that we were going to run 10-30 pounds of extra weight on chests and dressers now we believe it will be five to 15 pounds,” said Doug Bassett, president of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture, adding that the company is pleased with acceptance of the ASTM standard as “it obviously takes a lot of pressure off the factory. We were going to have to convert 100% of our production in four weeks for a very strict standard.”
Copeland Furniture also said it plans to add weight to each unit depending on the particular piece in question. In some cases, it also is adding an inch to the depth of the case.
“For all intents and purposes, we were fully engineered for both the CPSC and ASTM standards,” said Tim Copeland, president, noting that the company expects to begin shipping compliant product in June and that it expects the entire line to be fully compliant by July 1.
Many other case goods resources also have been working to meet the more complicated and ambiguous CPSC standard and are now prepared to be fully compliant with the updated ASTM standard.
“It is a huge sigh of relief for us,” said Rusty Morris, vice president, sales and marketing at American Woodcrafters. “Fortunately, we were already preparing (for either standard), no matter what happened.”
Case goods and upholstery resource Martin Svensson Home said it also was ready to comply with either standard. To do so, it incorporated changes such as adding weight to the back of cases, for example. However, moving forward, this will not involve any changes in design to various case pieces nor did it involve changing how far the drawers open.
“Everything you see in here, even if it is from past markets, is STURDY compliant,” said Pat Watson, company director, merchandising, noting that the company will begin shipping compliant goods on May 24. “It is about making the retailers’ life easier. If you buy from us, you don’t have to worry about it…We see it as a huge strategic advantage for us this market.”
For example, he noted that the changes it has made to the weight of the case will make it less cumbersome than the CPSC standard to deliver the product into peoples’ homes. This has been another major issue for retailers concerned about injuries to delivery personnel.
“We want to make it easy for the retailer,” Watson said. “We have a big focus on keeping it simple, foolproof and hard to damage.”
Phil Haney, chief executive officer of Lexington Home Brands said that the company is already compliant with STURDY on almost all pieces in its line and has tested to the 60-pound standard for the past few years.
“We are pleased the CPSC accepted the (ASTM F2057-23) standard,” Haney told Home News Now, adding that the test is repeatable and consistent in a way that makes sure product is compliant. “You don’t want any child to get hurt.”
He added that the company also has made sure that other pieces outside of the bedroom category also meet the standard, including items not typically used for clothing storage.
Case goods importer BDI said its clothing storage units also are compliant with STURDY. Due to the weight of its case pieces, it did not see a reason to add more weight. However, it did decide to install an interlock system, on chests, for example, which allows a user to only open one drawer at a time, a system it already has used on its lateral file units since 2011, said Dave Jacobs, director of account development.
Many have said that design changes to the depth of the case, for example, or lowering the height of nightstands to be exempt from either standard, would mean assigning a different SKU number for post compliant product. However, some are trying to avoid that.
Morris, of American Woodcrafters, noted that while there will be some changes that reflect how far drawers will come out — for example reducing full or near full drawer extensions by a couple of inches — along with adding some weight to the backs, there won’t be any major changes in the actual design of various pieces.
“That’s what we were trying to avoid,” he said, of major design changes, adding that the additional weight needed with thicker back panels also is nowhere near what it would have been under the CPSC standard.
Others such as New Classic and Winners Only said they plan to change SKU numbers on compliant product regardless of any design changes, or lack thereof, to differentiate it from pre-compliant product.
Case goods resource Winners Only said it may have some changes in design to certain product. However, the main differences will be adding weight to some pieces and changing how far drawers open to lower the child’s ability to tip over the unit.
“It will be a different SKU,” said Sheue-Wen Lee, chief executive officer of Winners Only, adding that boxes also will be labeled to show the product is compliant.
How the new standard affects pricing remains to be seen. Some have said they plan not to pass along any price increase as the cost of added materials is minimal. Others are still analyzing whether they will need to increase prices, with estimates ranging from low-to- mid-single digits or slightly higher at 10% in one case.
“I am not going to implement a price increase,” said Sheue Wen-Lee. “I am going to absorb it.”