Furniture Groups Concerned by Kids’ Tip-Over Act

The well-intentioned STURDY Act could have grave consequences, HFA says.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Well-intentioned legislation intended to prevent children’s dressers from tipping over could have alarming consequences, furniture trade groups warn.

The STURDY Act (Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth) was passed by the House of Representatives two years ago and is presently up for a vote in the Senate. The act would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to create a mandatory federal rule to ensure furniture stability.

Furniture groups including the Home Furnishings Association (HFA) and American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) support a mandatory standard for all children’s clothing storage units. Indeed, some in the furniture industry have already adopted a stringent but voluntary safety standard set by ASTM International in 2000 and updated five times since. Labeled ASTM F2057-19, it calls for heavier and wider dressers and the inclusion of tip-over restraints, and was endorsed by the CPSC’s Deputy Assistant Executive Director DeWane Ray.

“We believe many of these [tip-over] deaths (between 2000 and 2017) could have been prevented if the clothing storage units complied with the current ASTM standard,” Ray stated.

Both trade groups would like to see the standard permanently adopted and enforced by the CPSC. But according to HFA CEO Mark Schumacher, the STURDY Act would fast-track regulations through the agency with inufficient input from stakeholders or a mandatory review from the Office of Management and Budget, which he deems “a dangerous course.”

Writing in an HFA blog, Schumacher noted that “This accelerated process could lead to an unproven standard that is impossible to meet and confusing for consumers to understand … [and] opens the door for new rules to be pushed through with little input, discussion, and contemplation.”

Instead, rather than a legislative solution, the HFA and AHFA favor existing rulemaking authority at the CPSC, which provides for industry input by allowing the agency to receive and respond to stakeholder comments. “This is how effective safety standards should be developed and implemented,” he stressed.

Schumacher professed the furniture industry’s steadfast commitment to child safety, and said that in lieu of the STURDY Act, the solution to the estimated 11,300 tip-over injuries each year lies in making the ASTM’s voluntary standard mandatory.