On Tuesday, August 18, I participated on behalf of KID in a summit on furniture safety in High Point, NC. Lisa Siefert of Shane’s Foundation was also there, along with close to 50 industry representatives, Underwriters Laboratories and Bureau Veritas testing labs, and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The Summit was called jointly by CPSC and the American Home Furnishings Association (AFHA) along with ASTM International (ASTM) to move the dialogue forward on addressing furniture and TV tip-over injuries and deaths. A child is rushed to the emergency room every half hour with injuries from tip-overs and one child dies every two weeks.
CPSC Commissioner Marty Robinson started off by challenging the group to address these items:
- Pass a stronger standard that includes more robust requirements. This would include changing wording in the standard that puts the onus on consumers to anchor furniture as the first means of protection, rather than as an additional layer of insurance.
- Do more to encourage all furniture makers to comply with the ASTM standard.
- Educate retailers, employees, and customers on furniture safety – take every opportunity in the supply chain to reinforce the messaging
- Get anchoring products in all babyproofing sections – in stores and online. Consumers can’t install something they don’t know about.
Bill Perdue of AHFA and chair of the ASTM sub-committee on furniture safety gave an overview of the current standard and its requirements –the group also watched a demonstration of testing various units to the standard requirements. It was surprising to learn that not all companies are currently complying with the ASTM standard or think by providing anchoring straps – one component of the standard – they don’t have to meet the performance standards. Also a little concerning in the demonstration is that one unit the CPSC had secured met the requirement to stay upright when a fifty pound weight was hung on an open drawer – but tipped as soon as one or two other drawers were open – a foreseeable occurrence if a child is climbing on the dresser.
The CPSC also presented very detailed examples of anchoring systems that require no or few tools as well as possible designs of furniture that might stop tip-overs. Both Commissioner Robinson and the CPSC staff spoke of the student projects in KID’s TEST program at Northwestern University that tackled design solutions to tip- . KID shared additional details with other companies and interested groups.
The outcome? The ASTM sub-committee task group agreed to set a more rigorous pace to improving the standard and listed work items to get started on – including additional performance requirements, better ways to identify which products are tested to the industry standard, improving data collection and review and new ways to anchor furniture. KID will be participating in all these efforts. Send me an email if you would like more information on KID’s TEST program, the Summit or any other issues.