After Third Death Linked To Toppling Dressers, IKEA Expands “Repair Program”

Image courtesy of Steve

Last July, following the deaths of two children crushed by falling IKEA dressers, the retailer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a “repair program” that involved little more than sending out wall anchors to affected customers. Now, in the wake of a third death, IKEA is expanding that program.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that federal regulators and the retailer are investigating the death of a Minnesota toddler who died in February after an IKEA dresser fell on him.

IKEA says that so far it has sent 300,000 anchoring kits to consumers who have previously purchased MALM 3- and 4-drawer chests and two styles of MALM 6-drawer chests, as well as other chests and dressers.

Two MALM 6-drawer chests included in the repair program.

Two MALM 6-drawer chests included in the repair program.

The company and CPSC determined last year that the dressers might tip over if they were not securely anchored to the wall.

Despite linking the dressers to the deaths of two toddlers in 2014, the retailer and regulator did not actually recall the furniture. Instead, they issued a repair program that included sending 27 million consumers wall anchors and launching a campaign to alert the public of the danger and remind them to actually use the anchoring hardware.

The parents of the Minnesota toddler who died in February said they were unaware of the IKEA campaign.

Safety advocates say that was their concern when the retailer and regulators didn’t issue a traditional recall of the furniture. The Inquirer reports they argued that the chosen program lessened the impact, as the word “recall” carries more weight with consumers.

CPSC commission chairman Elliot Kaye said the agency expects companies to keep an eye on their products even after a recall or repair program has been initiated.

“Without commenting on any specific case, companies are now on notice that even if there has been a public announcement about a remedy to address a dangerous product, the company must take every possible step to prevent further harm,” he told the Inquirer. “This is especially the case when a child dies. Companies need to move fast and work with us on a comprehensive plan that offers their customers every necessary measure required for the sake of safety. I expect companies to truly put safety first.”

A spokesperson for IKEA says product safety is the company’s highest priority.

“Ikea has been advised that the product was not attached to the wall, which is an integral part of the product’s assembly instructions,” the spokesperson said. “We wish to emphasize that the best way to prevent tip-over of chests of drawers is to attach products to the wall with the included restraints and hardware per the assembly instructions.”

The company plans to expand its repair campaign “to ensure that this important message reaches even more people.” However, the company didn’t elaborate on how it would raise awareness.

Commission probes 3rd child Ikea dresser death [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.