New Legislation Targets Deadly Furniture Tip-Overs

Each year, some 25,000 Americans — mostly children — are injured or killed from furniture and other household appliances that tip over or fall because they are not properly secured. A new piece of legislation aims to reduce these potentially deadly incidents by establishing sturdier minimum standards.

The STURDY Act (short for the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act) was introduced in the Senate today by PA Senator Bob Casey.

If passed, it would direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to adopt a stronger, mandatory stability standard for clothing storage units (chests, bureaus, dressers, etc). Many of these products are tall with narrow bases, and while they may stand still when undisturbed, they can sometimes be pulled or knocked over with minimal force.

For example, IKEA’s Malm line of furniture has been tied to three tip-over deaths in recent years. The company has instituted and expanded a “repair program” that involves attaching the Malm units to the wall with anchors.

The STURDY Act would ask private industry standards group ASTM to publish a stronger stability standard for clothing storage units. If the CPSC finds that this new standard will help protect children against injury and death from furniture tip-overs, it can then adopt this new standard as the mandatory minimum. If the ASTM does not provide an adequate new standard within six months of the bill’s passing, the CPSC would would be required to issue its own final, mandatory safety standard.

“The STURDY Act requires the CPSC to adopt a stronger, mandatory stability standard that will help protect kids from being injured or killed by tip-overs of chests, dressers and bureaus,” said Sen. Casey in a statement. “I hope that furniture manufacturers, safety advocates and government stakeholders can work together to stop hundreds of preventable deaths and help make American homes safer for our children.”

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky from Illinois is introducing a companion version of the STURDY Act in the House.

“The voluntary safety standards for furniture today are insufficient,” she explains. “Unstable dressers and wardrobes are still on the market, putting children at risk. We’ve heard the heartbreaking stories of three toddlers killed by a single model of dresser sold by IKEA. We need stronger rules to prevent tragic accidents from furniture tip-overs.”

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