October 30, 2014 – HIGH POINT, NC – ASTM International, a developer of voluntary consensus standards for product safety and quality, has published a revised safety standard designed to help prevent the accidental tipping of residential furniture – specifically, chests and dressers over 30 inches high.
The “Standard Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Units” has been in place since 2000. It was updated in 2004 and again in 2009. It applies to all storage units, not just those designed for youth bedrooms, although many tip-over accidents occur in a child’s bedroom when youngsters attempt to climb on furniture.
The 2009 revision added the requirement that all furniture covered by the standard be shipped with a tip-over warning label, tip restraints and directions for installing the tip restraints. The 2014 revision (ASTM F2057-14), which makes a modification to the tip-over testing protocol, is accompanied by a new performance standard for tip restraints (ASTM F3096-14).
Growing popularity of “full-extension” drawer glides led to the revision in the tip-over testing method. According to Bill Perdue, AHFA vice president of regulatory affairs and chairman of the ASTM Furniture Safety Subcommittee that drafted the revised standard, full extension drawer glides were not widely used in residential furniture when the previous rule was written.
Until now, furniture was tested by pulling drawers out, one at a time, to the “stop” or to “two thirds of their operational sliding length,” whichever was shorter. Then, a weight totaling 50 pounds (approximating the weight of a small child) was applied to the center front of the drawer. If applying the 50-pound weight to any one of the drawers caused the piece to tip over, it failed the test.
As full-extension drawer glides became a popular feature, the ASTM Furniture Safety Subcommittee determined that the original test needed to be revised, so drawers that were constructed to be used fully extended by the consumer would be tested fully extended, rather than at two-thirds of their operational sliding length.
Drawers with no drawer stop can still be tested at two thirds of the operational sliding length.
Although ASTM standards are voluntary, Perdue emphasizes the importance of compliance.
“ASTM standards are considered baseline safety ‘best practices.’ As such, failure to comply with these voluntary measures can create a legal liability,” he points out. “In addition, widespread industry compliance with voluntary measures keeps them voluntary. Keeping them voluntary means that the standards can be developed by technical experts and industry professionals at the helm, rather than government officials.”
Copies of the revised furniture tip-over standard and the new tip restraint performance standard can be obtained from ASTM at www.astm.org. Because ASTM standards are voluntary, no compliance date is specified in the standard. They are considered “effective” the day they are published.
October 30, 2014