AHFA: CPSC asks ASTM International to develop performance safety standard for recliners

ASTM is moving forward to create a standard and has set a July 10 meeting to discuss the matter with industry officials

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — The American Home Furnishings Alliance has alerted its members that the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has asked the ASTM International Furniture Safety Subcommittee to develop a performance standard to address safety hazards associated with reclining furniture.

Last month, ASTM agreed to develop the standard and has set a meeting for 2 p.m.-3 p.m. July 10 to discuss the matter. It will be hosted by ASTM Furniture Safety Subcommittee Chairman Richard Rosati, who is also vice president of governmental affairs and industry standards at Bureau Veritas.

According to the AHFA, the CPSC Office of Hazard Identification and Reduction sent Rosati a letter dated April 27 that said it was aware of 13 incidents, including seven fatalities, associated with recliners that involved children between 8 months and 5 years old that occurred between 2011 and 2021.

According to the CPSC, the incidents show two hazard patterns including one where entrapment occurs in the foot support lift mechanism from beneath the recliner, which officials said is compounded when the lift is motorized. A second form of entrapment occurs in the top of the leg rest while the furniture is in a reclined position, resulting in a child slipping between the leg rest and the seat cushion.

AHFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill Perdue said that prior to the April 27 letter, AHFA was not aware of any injury or fatality incidents involving reclining furniture during the specified time period. In addition to participating in the ASTM standard development process, Perdue said AHFA is convening a new motion furniture task group to review the incidents and consider possible requirements for the standard.

The AHFA said that ASTM does not currently publish any standard related to reclining furniture. It noted however that in 1988, the American Furniture Manufacturers Association (now AHFA) published industry recliner guidelines specifying that openings between the upholstered seat and the leg rest should measure 5 inches or less.

AHFA said this followed a joint press release from CPSC and AFMA in 1985 alerting parents about “possible accidental death or injury to young children using or playing on recliner chairs.”

At that time, AHFA noted, that the CPSC had investigated or received reports of three deaths and two serious brain injuries to children between the ages of 12 and 20 months. These incidents occurred prior to 1985 and involved children climbing or playing on the leg rest part of the chair while it was reclined.

The July 10 meeting will be hosted by Rosati. Those interested in joining the ASTM F15.42 Furniture Safety Subcommittee and/or attending the July 10 recliner meeting should contact Molly Lynyak, ASTM F15.42 staff manager, at mlynyak@astm.org, for details.

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.

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