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Government develops rules to prevent fatal dresser tip overs, bypassing Congress

Elliot Kaye
Posted at 2:36 PM, Oct 21, 2022

From January 2000 through April 2022, there were 234 reported fatal incidents of clothing storage units tipping over in the United States. Of those, 199 involved children. The CPSC also said there have been an average of 5,300 injuries caused by dressers and clothing units tipping over yearly.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced new rules in hopes of preventing more of these deaths.

The new rules would require units to exceed minimum stability requirements and display important safety information.

“The stability requirements reflect real-world factors, like multiple open drawers, drawers containing clothing-representative loads, angling clothing storage units to replicate the effects of placement on carpet and forces a child exerts while climbing or pulling on a clothing storage unit, all of which are shown to occur during clothing storage unit tip overs and contribute to their instability,” the CPSC said.

The CPSC also has launched an Anchor It campaign to encourage Americans to attach dressers to the wall.

“Each year, children are killed or injured in dresser tipover incidents. The standard set today will ensure that dressers are safer and fewer children are at risk,” said CPSC Chairperson Alex Hoehn-Saric. “I want to thank the members of Parents Against Tipovers and other consumer advocates who have spent years pushing the agency to set a strong standard that will protect children going forward.”

CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka placed the blame on furniture companies.

“The furniture industry has known since at least 1998 that unstable dressers have been tipping over and harming children at alarming and unacceptable rates, yet it has refused to fix the problem. Today’s final rule remedies industry’s failure,” he said.

The rule was passed as Congress debated a bill putting a similar rule into law.

The Sturdy Act would require manufacturers to conduct safety and stability tests in compliance with a safety standard to be issued by CPSC. According to information from the furniture manufacturing industry, safety and stability tests are conducted under an existing voluntary standard, the federal government said.

That bill passed in the Senate and is currently in the House.

One commissioner of the CPSC, Peter Feldman, voted in opposition to the rule, saying that the group should have given Congress more time to pass the bill.

“We have done too much work and invested too many resources to push through a final rule that I believe has legal vulnerabilities. A rule that is stayed or overturned offers zero consumer protections,” Feldman said.