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Parent Advocates and Consumer Groups: Furniture Companies Have One Month to Comply with New Federal Safety Rule to Prevent Tip-Over Injuries to Children

New standards for dressers and other clothing storage units are mandatory as of September 1; Failure to comply means leaving children’s lives at risk

WASHINGTON, DC – In an open letter to the furniture industry from parent advocates and consumer advocacy groups, including Parents Against Tip-Overs (PAT), Consumer Reports (CR), Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and Kids In Danger (KID), the organizations urged the furniture industry to prioritize children’s safety by fully complying with the requirements of a new safety rule that goes into effect one month from today on September 1, 2023. The new rule results from the STURDY Act—a bipartisan bill passed by Congress in December 2022—that will be enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

According to the CPSC, at least 234 people have died from clothing storage unit tip-overs from 2000 to April 2022, and approximately 5,300 people are sent to the emergency department every year. Tragically, we continue to hear of additional fatal tip-over incidents, including the devastating deaths of a three-year-old boy in May and a one-year-old girl and a twenty-two-month-old girl in July. 

“Congress passed a bill, the President signed it, and now companies need to follow the law. Children’s lives depend on it,” said Gabe Knight, Safety Policy Advocate for Consumer Reports. “It is imperative for all manufacturers and retailers to immediately comply with the federal standards to prevent furniture tip-overs.”

“The ASTM standard was developed in conjunction with the furniture industry, consumer groups, and the CPSC,” said Brett Horn, Chairman of Parents Against Tip-Overs. “Now we are reliant upon immediate compliance from retailers and manufacturers to accomplish our shared goal of protecting children from these terrible tip-over incidents.”

“To protect children, manufacturers and retailers must ensure that only compliant furniture is sold immediately,” said Courtney Griffin, Director of Consumer Product Safety at Consumer Federation of America. “For too long, children and families paid the price for the industry’s inaction. Companies must act now.”  

“Furniture makers and retailers have had sufficient warning that the new standard to prevent tip-overs was coming – they helped develop it,” said Nancy Cowles, Executive Director of Kids In Danger. “There is no excuse for manufacturers and retailers to continue selling unstable, non-compliant dressers after the government’s September 1 effective date. We already have too many hazardous dressers in our homes – it’s time to get them off our store shelves and online sites.”

The groups wrote that companies failing to comply with the new safety standard would put children’s lives at risk and expose themselves to substantial consequences, including fines of up to $120,000 per violation and potential criminal penalties. The advocacy groups are calling on the CPSC to take swift and decisive enforcement action against any company violating the law starting September 1. They also released bullet points on the new federal rule, outlining what its adoption means for consumers, dresser manufacturers, and retailers:

  • What this means for consumers: People purchasing new clothing storage furniture manufactured on or after September 1, 2023, when the new rule takes effect, can be assured that the furniture they buy meets a strong mandatory stability standard. However, non-compliant furniture manufactured before September 1 will remain available for purchase, so consumers should ask sellers whether a piece of furniture meets the 2023 version of the ASTM F2057 standard (codified at 16 CFR part 1261). Caregivers are still strongly encouraged to anchor their furniture to the wall—especially preexisting dressers that do not meet the CPSC’s required stability standard.
  • What this means for manufacturers: Starting September 1, all manufacturers will be required by a CPSC rule to provide anchoring kits and produce dressers that meet the stability requirements of the ASTM F2057-23 standard.
  • What this means for retailers: While retailers may still have items in their inventory that are non-compliant with the CPSC’s safety rule, this could continue to put consumers at risk. We strongly urge retailers to stop selling non-compliant furniture and be prepared to educate consumers on which products meet the new requirements. We also urge retailers to encourage consumers to anchor furniture to the wall to prevent tip-overs.

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