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After years of delays, safety agency adopts rule to protect children from dresser and other clothing storage unit tip-overs

Anchorit_Photo CPSC_Image-WEBIt’s good news that a new federal safety standard for clothing storage units has finally been adopted that will reduce injuries and deaths from dresser and other clothing storage unit tip-overs.

In writing about consumer product safety for decades, it’s been discouraging to read about and report on tip-over deaths through the years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s notoriously long rule making process, and the failure of Congress to pass the STURDY Act. STURDY stands for Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth.

Prior to the adoption tip-over standard by the CPSC on Wednesday, there was no mandatory standard for dressers and other clothing storage units despite at least 199 child deaths since 2000.

“The CPSC’s final vote today will prevent child deaths and injuries due to furniture tip-overs, and could not have been possible without the years-long advocacy of parents who have lost children to tip-overs,” said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger, a child safety organization. “The wait for safer furniture will soon be over and we urge strong compliance actions by CPSC to make it a reality.”

The current voluntary standard was weak and not effective enough to prevent tip-overs, Cowles said in a statement.

The new standards will significantly change the way clothing storage units are tested and labeled. Young children are most at risk of injury or death from tip-overs with this type of furniture, which includes chests, bureaus, dressers, armoires, wardrobes, chests of drawers, chifforobes, and door chests. 

Under the CPSC’s new rule, all clothing storage units that are within the definition will be required to meet minimum stability requirements, bear labels containing safety and identification information, and display a hang tag that provides performance and technical data about the relative stability of the clothing storage units. The rule will go into effect 180 days after publication in the Federal Register.

In their draft rule, CPSC staff determined that existing tip-over reduction efforts – including the promotion and use of anti-tip restraints and safety messaging to the public – haven’t sufficiently reduced child tip-over deaths and injuries, according to Consumer Reports. Agency staff further determined that to adequately reduce the risk of tip-overs, clothing storage units should be manufactured to be more stable. 

“This rule will raise the bar on safety for the furniture in our homes, and it will help give parents, caregivers and families the peace of mind they deserve,” said Gabe Knight, policy advocate for Consumer Reports. “While this rule cannot bring back the hundreds of children who are gone, it can help prevent the suffering of countless families in the future.”

Clothing storage units currently in the home may be a danger to children. Get information from the CPSC’s Anchor It! Campaign at www.anchorit.gov for information on how to prevent tip-overs.

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