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Federal safety agency votes to adopt stability requirements for dressers: What this means for caregivers, manufacturers, and retailers

CPSC leaders signal they will take voluntary industry standard and make it mandatory

WASHINGTON – Consumer Reports today commended the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for voting to adopt the ASTM International standard for dressers and other clothing storage furniture as a mandatory rule enforceable by law. Once it takes effect, the new rule will help protect children up to 72 months of age from unstable furniture by requiring strong and practicable stability tests based on real-world use. According to the CPSC, at least 482 children have died from furniture tip-overs since 2000, and approximately 8,900 children are sent to the emergency department every year.

Gabe Knight, policy advocate for Consumer Reports, said, “We applaud the Commission for voting to take this voluntary safety standard and make it mandatory, which will go a long way to help prevent the furniture tip-overs that too often injure—or even kill—children. Parents and caregivers have waited two decades for a strong standard to help keep their children safe from tip-over tragedies. While this standard cannot bring back the children who have died, it will protect countless families from suffering the preventable loss of a child. Companies should move as quickly as possible to ensure they are only selling dressers that are compliant with the standard. Children’s lives depend on it.”

Parents Against Tip-overs (PAT), said, “We are thrilled with the CPSC’s approval of the much improved stability standard ASTM F2057-23 as the mandatory rule, per the direction of the STURDY Act. A strong mandatory standard has been the individual and shared goal of all PAT parents for 20 years. Our kids’ deaths are the ‘data’ justifying the need for change, our parents’ testimonies were the catalyst for the CPSC’s rule, our push for compromise was instrumental in the life saving improvements to the voluntary standard, and our passion for a solution was the driving force behind the passage of the STURDY Act. Our hope is the result will be the protection of children from the type of horrible accidents which took our children’s lives.” Read PAT’s statement on the ASTM decisional here.

Adopting the ASTM voluntary standard is part of implementing the STURDY Act, which was signed into law by the President in December 2022. The STURDY Act requires the CPSC to promulgate a consumer product safety standard for dressers and other clothing storage furniture within the legislation’s scope. The law also states that the Commission must make a determination on whether an existing voluntary standard meets certain requirements under STURDY, and if it does, adopt the rule as mandatory. In today’s vote, the Commission determined that the ASTM voluntary standard meets STURDY’s requirements, and should become mandatory in 120 days.

With the adoption of the ASTM standard as mandatory, this is what caregivers, dresser manufacturers, and retailers should know:

  • What this means for caregivers: People purchasing new clothing storage furniture after the new rule takes effect, expected by late summer or early fall, can be assured that the furniture they are buying meets a strong mandatory stability standard. CR still strongly encourages caregivers to anchor their furniture.
  • What this means for manufacturers: Once the rule goes into effect, all manufacturers will be required to produce dressers that meet the stability requirements of the CPSC’s rule. 
  • What this means for retailers: While retailers may still have items in their inventory that are non-compliant with the CPSC’s safety rule, we call on them to stop selling such products. Consumers should be vigilant when shopping for a new dresser or other types of clothing storage furniture, and carefully read all product labels.   

While manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their furniture resists tipping over onto children, anti-tip restraints will help keep children even safer. Consumer Reports strongly advises all parents and caregivers to anchor their furniture—especially preexisting dressers that do not meet the CPSC’s required stability standard. 

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