• Thomas Russell

CPSC looks to raise tipover test weights

Agency recommends testing requirement increase from 50  to 60 pounds

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is recommending that the test weight for a voluntary tip-over standard be increased from 50 to 60 pounds in order to cover a larger segment of the youth population up to age six.

The recommendation was presented in a Sept. 30 staff briefing on furniture tip-overs compiled by CPSC staff. It primarily addresses ASTM F2057-14, the voluntary standard for tip-overs.

Intended to cover children up to and including age five, this standard applies to free standing clothing storage units more than 30 inches high such as chests, door chests and dressers. According to the standard, an empty unit shall not tip over when the drawer is opened to the stop and a 50-pound weight is applied to the open drawer.

The standard also requires the case have a warning label about the dangers of tip overs. A 2009 version of the standard also addressed the need for tip-restraint devices (TRDs), a requirement that in 2014 was moved into a separate standard, ASTM-3096-14.

CPSC’s recent testing of clothing storage units (CSUs) found more than half of the units tested, 31 out of 61 samples, do not comply with ASTM F2057-14, the voluntary standard for furniture tip-overs.

The report also noted that 34 of the 61, 56% of the CSUs, contained a warning label related to tip-over hazards. And of the 61 samples, the CPSC found that 18, or 30%, did not include tip restraint devices.

The CPSC report said that it is “foreseeable and developmentally expected” as part of their development of problem solving skills for children younger than age six to climb on lower drawers of clothing storage units in order to reach items in upper drawers or the top of the unit. It estimates that tip-overs over furniture occurring from 2000 to 2015 resulted in 2,600 emergency department treated injuries and 97 fatalities involving chests, bureaus and dressers.

“Staff believes more work needs to be done to effectively address the risk of tip-over incidents,” the report said.

In addition to the 60-pound testing requirement, it recommended that tip-restraint performance requirements need to be reintegrated into ASTM F2057-14. Currently this is covered by ASTM F3096-14, which CPSC believes is a very limited standard with one test that can only address on type of test restraint device (TRD). It also recommends the development of system-level testing methods that allow for the “innovation of alternate or integrated TRDs,” including versions that ultimately can withstand the 60 pound test weight.

CPSC also recommends the modification of warning labels on or inside case pieces to address issues raised in its report. Among its labeling recommendations are to:

  • Strengthen requirements for permanency of the label on the piece.
  • Identify a conspicuous location on the case for the warning label.
  • Allow for the customization of the warning label based on the design of the unit so that the label specifically addresses and applies to specific pieces.
  • Compare warning messages with incident data to make sure that known hazardous situations are identified.
  • Revising the message panel text in a way that it is easily understood and does not contradict typical clothing storage unit use and that also motivates consumers to comply with the warning.

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) said it has reviewed the CPSC staff briefing package on furniture tip over, including the proposed changes to the ASTM International voluntary furniture stability standard, ASTM F2057-14.

“We see nothing in the briefing package to demonstrate that the current standard is not adequate,” the AHFA said in a statement. “As the CPSC acknowledges, it has, thus far, presented no incident data for serious injuries or fatalities involving furniture that complies with the current voluntary industry stability standard.

“In addition to representatives from the residential furniture industry, the ASTM furniture safety committee includes members of the CPSC staff and child safety advocates. All of these stakeholders have worked together on multiple revisions and updates to the standard over the past 16 years, any time new data or product design innovations warranted a change.

“But the recommended actions in the staff briefing package would make it more difficult for companies that already comply to remain compliant while doing nothing to address non-compliant companies.”

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, Furniture Today

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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