A report by the U.S. Product Safety Commission found that at least 489 people – mainly small children – died from 2000 to 2015 when furniture, televisions or appliances tipped over and crushed them. That report also estimates that 33,100 people went to the emergency room annually for injuries related to tip-overs from 2013 to 2015. The report calls tip-overs “one of the top hidden hazards in the home.”
The home furnishings giant IKEA announced in June that it was recalling about 180 models of chests and dressers that it admitted do not meet the voluntary safety standards. That included the popular MALM-style dresser, which has killed at least three children by tipping over and crushing them.
The current voluntary standards include two performance tests: First, can the chest or dresser remain standing if all of its drawers are open? Second, can the furniture remain standing if a 50-pound weight is applied to a single, open drawer? (The weight is used to test for the impact of a 50-pound child climbing on a chest or dresser.)
A new technical report concludes that the weight requirement should be increased to 60 pounds because nearly all 5-year-olds weigh that much, and because children at that age are likely to climb on furniture. In addition, the report faults the voluntary standards for not specifying where tip-over warning labels should be placed and for lacking explicit pass or fail criteria for tip-over restraints, such as wall anchors. It also criticized manufacturers for either failing to include anchors or for including anchors that were insufficient.
As part of the technical report, the commission also tested 61 chests and dressers to see if they meet the current stability requirements. Thirty-one failed. Using those results, the commission developed a formula to project how much force is needed on an open drawer to tip over a dresser. Based on that formula, the commission projects that nearly a quarter of 531 chests and dressers it surveyed would fail the stability requirements of the voluntary standards.
Chests and dressers that failed safety tests were from Ameriwood Industries, Signature Design by Ashley, Bassett Furniture, Coaster, Delta Children’s Products, IKEA, Magnussen, MDB Family Product, Pottery Barn Kids, Rockland and South Shore.
An industry expert said the commission’s findings are “very consistent” with a recent report by product safety advocates at Kids in Danger and Shane’s Foundation. Their report found that even when furniture manufacturers abide by the voluntary standards children may still be in danger of being crushed.
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For specific instructions on anchoring furniture please go to