March 7, 2017 – HIGH POINT, N.C. – At next month’s High Point Market, members of the American Home Furnishings Alliance are joining in an effort to broaden the industry’s awareness and understanding of the ASTM voluntary furniture stability standard.
In dozens of AHFA member company showrooms, a gold tent card stating “We Comply” will be visible on reception desks and on specific products throughout the showroom. The front of the tent card further prompts: “Ask us about ASTM F2057-14.”
ASTM F2057-14 is the voluntary furniture stability standard that applies to all residential clothing storage units 30 inches high or taller. It was adopted by ASTM International in 2000 and updated in 2004, 2009 and again in 2014.
AHFA explains that displaying the “We Comply” card means a company’s products have been engineered to comply with the ASTM voluntary standard. Specifically, that means the covered products have been tested to ensure they pass two stability performance tests outlined in the standard. Covered products also must carry a warning label specified in the standard and be shipped with tip restraints and instructions for installing them.
To pass the stability performance tests, an empty unit cannot tip when all doors (if any) are open and all drawers are open to the “stop” or open two-thirds of the way if there is no “stop.” Full-extension drawers must be tested with the drawers fully extended. Covered units also cannot tip when one drawer is open to the “stop” (or two-thirds of the way if there is no “stop”) and a 50-pound weight is applied to the center from the drawer. This second test is repeated for each drawer (and door, if any) in the unit.
A separate standard, ASTM F3096-14, sets forth testing criteria for the tip restraints.
The back of AHFA’s “We Comply” tent card provides bullet points to help remind sales reps about the three specific requirements for compliance.
“The card also explains that ‘voluntary’ does not mean ‘optional’ for manufacturers or retailers,” notes AHFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill Perdue. “Products that do not meet voluntary safety standards can be deemed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to be a ‘substantial product hazard.’ That leads to expensive recalls that create a black eye for our entire industry.”
Perdue says AHFA created the ‘We Comply’ campaign to give its member companies the opportunity to work more closely with their retail customers to promote awareness of furniture tip-over hazards.
According to an August 2016 report from the CPSC, there were 411 child fatalities due to furniture, television and appliance tip-over accidents between 2000 and 2015. In 64 percent of these fatal accidents, a television by itself or a television and the furniture holding it tipped over. Twenty-nine percent of the accidents involved furniture only.
In 2015, the CPSC launched a national “Anchor It” public awareness campaign aimed at reducing the number of tip-over accidents. The campaign included a website with advice for parents on how to anchor furniture and resources for retailers to help consumers understand the hazard. But the campaign received no funding in the CPSC’s 2017 Operating Plan.
Instead, a September 2016 briefing package from CPSC staff advised increasing the test weight in the ASTM standard from 50 to 60 pounds to make compliant furniture more stable. Further, based on testing of 61 clothing storage units from 102 manufacturers, CPSC staff concluded that industry compliance with the standard was lacking and recommended issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking for a mandatory standard in 2017.
“AHFA supports changes to the voluntary standard that are based on actual incident data, but we also remain convinced that, because most homes contain furnishings that pre-date the stability standard, consumer education and increased use of tip restraints is the key to reducing the number of tip-over accidents,” Perdue points out. “In homes where small children are present, securing furniture and televisions should be as routine as using outlet covers and cabinet locks.”
AHFA has worked with furniture manufacturers and child safety experts for more than a decade on safety measures specifically designed to increase the stability of residential furniture and to reduce the number of furniture tip-over accidents. More information on the voluntary ASTM furniture stability standard and how to comply is available here.