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Furniture manufacturers, government must act now to stop tip-overs, recall dangerous dressers

After CPSC chair comments on the deadly hazard, Consumer Reports says potential changes welcome, overdue

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Consumer Reports today called for strong, immediate action by furniture manufacturers and the federal government on new rules and recalls to protect children from dresser tip-over incidents in the home, which can lead to serious injury or even death. The call follows a speech today by Acting Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Ann Marie Buerkle announcing her support for changes to the industry’s voluntary safety standard so that it includes shorter dressers and a tougher stability test.

As a part of its ongoing investigation into tip-over hazards—including independent testing—CR has demonstrated that it is both feasible and necessary for furniture manufacturers to meet a stronger standard, and has called for urgent changes to protect children.

William Wallace, senior policy analyst for Consumer Reports, said:

“Children’s lives are on the line, and changes are long overdue. We’re glad to see Chairman Buerkle announce support for a heavier test weight and inclusion of shorter dressers in the voluntary standard for furniture tip-overs. We agree that manufacturers and all participants in the standard-setting process should quickly make these changes. These would be important first steps to protect young children from foreseeable harm, though additional measures also are needed, including the implementation of a strong mandatory standard.

“Chairman Buerkle also announced that the CPSC will now consider dressers defective if they are within the scope of the current voluntary standard but fail to meet its provisions, and will investigate and seek corrective action as appropriate. As we’ve said, it’s an open secret that there are dressers on the market that don’t stay upright when put through basic testing, and yet there was not a single recall in 2018 for an unstable dresser. We would expect to see recalls of dangerous dressers following this announcement.

“It’s the job of the CPSC and manufacturers to keep all dangerous dressers off the market and out of homes. There should be an immediate recall and refunds for Ikea’s 8-drawer Hemnes dresser tied to the death of two-year-old Conner DeLong, and CPSC action against any company that fails to recall a defective product or otherwise breaks the law.”

CR has long advocated for a stronger, mandatory standard for furniture in order to help avoid tip-over injuries and deaths. CR, other safety advocates, and the parents of children killed by dressers that tipped over also have urged the furniture industry to substantially strengthen its voluntary standard in several key ways.

CR encourages consumers to secure dressers to walls to help prevent tip-overs—including through our advice in an article and video that helps consumers know how to anchor furniture—but recognizes that it is not always an option for rental tenants or those who are not handy with tools. CR says that the furniture industry has a responsibility to build safer, more stable dressers, and that safety should not rely on a person’s skill at anchoring a dresser to a wall.

Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, 202-462-6262

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Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.