The Commission voted today for a strong safety standard that will protect children and the elderly from deadly furniture tip overs. Consumers should be able to trust the stability of furniture in their homes, and for too long, industry failed to respond to known hazards, leaving unsuspecting families to suffer the consequences.
Over 200 heartbreaking deaths, along with countless injuries, have occurred when unstable dressers and other clothing storage furniture have fallen on young children and others, causing head trauma, chest compression, and other devastating harm. I am deeply grateful to the many families who have responded to these unspeakable tragedies by standing up for change. Their tireless advocacy over many years has been a significant force in what has become a widely recognized national issue, and I believe that the Commission’s action today achieves our shared goal of averting preventable injury and death.
The impact of this rule on two distinct vulnerable populations is hard to overstate: not only does it protect toddlers and young children, who are particularly at risk from devastating injuries and death caused by tip-overs, but it also protects seniors, who, the data show, also suffer significant injuries and death as a result of tip-overs. The very ordinariness of CSUs—familiar products that consumers do not expect to be dangerous— and the continued threat they have posed is what demanded this action today.
Based on careful analysis of both injury data and the mechanics of CSUs, this rule requires manufacturers to step up: their products must now pass rigorous testing, meet stability requirements, and provide stability ratings directly to consumers. The final rule goes further than existing voluntary standards and accounts for real world interactions and scenarios–for example, children climbing on filled drawers in a dresser on a carpeted surface--that can ultimately lead to fatal tip overs. What is more, CPSC staff carefully reviewed public comments and made revisions to the proposed rule to account for industry and consumer concerns. These changes provide additional clarity about testing standards and provide additional time for compliance with the new rule.
Today, we are making a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable consumers.
Although I recognize the importance of working with voluntary standards bodies, when those efforts are not adequate or timely, we must impose mandatory requirements. It is time for furniture manufacturers, along with standards-making bodies, to embrace the meaningful action required to make these clothing storage units safer. What we do at CPSC makes a difference and the use of our regulatory authority today will make a difference.