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A Big Win for Child Safety: The STURDY Act, Included in Year-End Bill, Goes To President’s Desk To Be Signed Into Law

The STURDY Act will require a federal safety standard for dressers and other clothing storage furniture to help prevent deadly tip-overs that have killed hundreds of children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Starting in mid-2023, all new dressers and other clothing storage furniture in the U.S. will have to meet strong stability requirements before going to market, under reforms included in the omnibus spending bill approved by the House today. Tip-overs of unstable dressers have taken the lives of hundreds of children since 2000. Consumer Reports today commended Congress for passing these reforms, known as the STURDY Act, as part of the spending bill approved by the Senate yesterday, which will be signed into law by the President.

“This hard-fought victory would not have been possible without the courageous parent advocates who shared their stories, transformed their grief into action, and successfully urged Congress to ensure that no other family would have to suffer the preventable loss of a child,” said Gabe Knight, policy advocate for Consumer Reports. “The STURDY Act’s passage demonstrates what consumers can accomplish when we come together and fight for change. This triumph shows we have the power to challenge industry, have our voices heard, and score a big win that saves lives.” 

“Parents Against Tip-Overs (PAT) is thrilled with today’s long-overdue passage of the STURDY Act, which is the result of years of tireless advocacy by the members of PAT on behalf of the hundreds of families who have lost a child to a dresser tip-over,” said Kim Amato, vice chair of Parents Against Tip-Overs. “It is a bittersweet victory, as this issue should have been adequately addressed decades ago by the furniture industry and the CPSC, when it was first identified as a significant product safety hazard, and before tip-overs claimed the lives of our children and hundreds of others. PAT is deeply grateful that the STURDY Act is on the way to the President’s desk to be signed into law, and for everyone who helped to make this day a reality. It feels like a Christmas miracle—one that will protect families from having to live with the pain we do, and that is the greatest gift we could have asked for.”

The Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act directs the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to implement a mandatory standard for dressers and other clothing storage furniture, or alternatively adopt an existing voluntary standard, if the agency determines that such a standard meets requirements outlined in the bill. Under STURDY, these kinds of furniture must pass rigorous tests that simulate real-world use, and account for any impact on stability that may result from placement on carpeted surfaces, drawers with items in them, and multiple open drawers. The tests must also account for the weight of children and the dynamic forces they create when interacting with a dresser, such as when they pull on drawers or climb the unit. The new rule is expected to take effect in mid-2023.

Consumer Reports has been fighting to improve dresser stability for well over a decade. CR’s comparative furniture stability testing has been the foundation of our advocacy work, consistently demonstrating that it is feasible for dressers at all price points to meet strong safety standards. Notably, for CR’s 2018 investigation, A Hidden Hazard in Your Home, we tested 24 dressers and found that some units could pass CR’s most rigorous tests while others failed to meet CR’s easier evaluations, underscoring why a strong, mandatory standard was both feasible and necessary. 

The STURDY Act’s passage represents a unique collaboration among parent advocates, consumer groups, and the furniture industry, including Parents Against Tip-Overs (PAT), Consumer Reports, the Consumer Federation of America, Kids In Danger, IKEA, and other manufacturers and retailers. The groups engaged with the American Home Furnishings Alliance, an industry trade group, and worked closely with lawmakers and congressional staff to advance this bipartisan bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in the House and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in the Senate. 

In October 2022, following years of advocacy by parents and consumer groups, the CPSC approved a strong final rule that would similarly establish a mandatory safety standard for dressers and other clothing storage furniture to prevent deadly tip-overs. CR has supported both this rule and the STURDY Act, recognizing that congressional action would build on the CPSC’s important work and provide a broad base of support for strong furniture stability rules.

In addition to supporting mandatory safety requirements to address furniture tip-overs, Consumer Reports strongly advises all parents and caregivers to anchor their furniture. While it should always be the responsibility of manufacturers to ensure that their furniture resists tipping over onto children, anti-tip restraints must be properly installed to help keep children safe —especially from tip-overs involving existing dressers that might not be as stable as those that are manufactured in the coming years. 

Media Contact: Emily Akpan, emily.akpan@consumer.org