New Rules for Kids’ Dressers Draws Fire from Furniture Groups

CPSC standard to prevent tip-overs deemed unfeasible

By Alan Wolf, YSN

UPDATED: The furniture industry’s two top trade associations are taking the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to task for what they describe as an ambiguous and unfeasible new safety standard for children’s dressers.

The new CPSC rule, which is set to go into effect May 24, is designed to mitigate tip-overs of all clothing storage furniture. Accidents involving chests, bureaus and dressers injure an estimated 2,600 children ages 18 and under each year, according to the consumer protection agency.

But the Home Furnishings Association (HFA), the leading trade organization for furniture retailers, said elements of the standard, which covers a wide range of product categories, are “nearly impossible to comply” with. Specifically, the new CPSC rule could require the addition of hundreds of pounds of counterweights, which “would make the furniture nearly impossible to engineer and completely unmanageable from a sales, delivery and installation standpoint,” the HFA said, and described the measures as “overkill.”

Moreover, the association, in concert with safety advocates, concerned parent groups and the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), the trade organization for furniture manufacturers, previously crafted a revised version of the STURDY Act (Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth), which addressed stakeholders’ safety concerns. The act was signed into law by President Biden as part of the 2023 omnibus spending bill, and directs the CPSC to establish a mandatory standard this month that meets the STURDY Act’s testing requirements.

As a result of the conflicting directives, “Manufacturers, importers and retailers are now incurring massive costs to redesign, manufacture, label and ship clothing storage furniture that complies with a rule we believe will eventually be deemed unenforceable,” the AHFA said — and that in effect “outlaws most clothing storage furniture in production, in warehouses and on retail floors today.”

The AHFA is challenging the CPSC standard in federal court, although in the absence of a ruling to date the May 24 implementation remains in effect. In the meantime, the trade group is urging all furniture industry parties to share their concerns with Congress via this link, while the HFA has separately provided a “Letter to Congress” template, a finder for Congressional contact information and a FAQ page that summarizes the issue.

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