Safety Advocates Applaud IKEA Recall, Hope Consumers Return Or Anchor Dressers

Safety advocates were deeply disappointed earlier this year when the news came that another child was killed that the very popular Malm dresser from IKEA fell on top of him. It’s horrible every time that an ordinary household object kills someone, but this model of dresser was part of a voluntary repair program that IKEA wouldn’t call a recall. Now the dressers have been officially recalled, but that should have happened before another child died.

A coalition of safety advocates campaigned for the repair program to be called a “recall,” and for customers to receive refunds for their dressers if they wanted one. The coalition included Kids in Danger, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Center for Health Research, and Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumerist’s parent organization.

“While we wish that this safety hazard had been addressed sooner to protect young lives,” the groups said in their joint statement, “we’re pleased that this recall will stop the sale of these dressers and give consumers options for a refund or the assistance to make these products safer by anchoring them to the wall.”

They collectively urge IKEA to publicize the recall, and to make future dressers that adhere to the voluntary industry standard, adding, “We commend staff at the CPSC for their hard work to secure a recall that also commits IKEA to designing and selling furniture that meets safety standards going forward.”

Yes, there’s a voluntary tip-over standard for furniture companies, which requires each open drawer to support 50 pounds of weight. This is to prevent a very specific problem: children using drawers to climb to the top of the dresser.

What led the safety advocates to take up this case is that non-anchored dressers don’t meet the safety standard, yet the previously announced repair program wasn’t called a “recall.” That word doesn’t mean that a product has to go back to the manufacturer: it can also mean that a product needs to be repaired or have a part replaced before it’s safe to use.