October 26, 2017 – HIGH POINT, N.C. – ASTM International’s subcommittee on furniture safety has revised the industry’s voluntary stability standard, F2057, as part of its ongoing effort to reduce injuries and deaths associated with the tip-over of residential clothing storage furniture.
According to the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), which has a staff executive, Bill Perdue, who serves on the furniture safety subcommittee, the updates include new language in the introduction to the standard, as well as a revised warning label and a method for testing the permanence of that label.
Once ASTM finalizes the updated standard by publishing it on its website, www.astm.org, it will apply to all covered products manufactured from that date forward.
The revised and expanded introduction to the stability standard was crafted to address a “loophole” that some U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) officials perceived in the previous introduction. It stated in part: This consumer safety specification does not apply to products that are blatantly misused, nor does it apply to products used by consumers in a careless manner that violate normal practice or disregard the instructions or warnings provided with the product, or both.
At a product safety symposium sponsored by AHFA in August 2015, industry executives who worked on the standard said the introduction statement was intended to protect manufacturers from claims resulting from consumer misuse of products that comply with the standard.
But CPSC Commissioner Marietta Robinson told symposium attendees that officials from one company used the language in the standard’s introduction to argue that the performance requirements in the standard did not apply if a consumer “misused” their product by, for example, not using the supplied tip restraints. (Robinson’s term on the commission expired in October, but she may serve another year, or until a replacement is appointed and confirmed.)
A task group from the ASTM subcommittee on furniture safety was assigned to review the introduction. Despite a legal review that concluded there was no “loophole” in the current language, in April 2016 the task group proposed a revised introduction “to more specifically reflect the proper application of the standard.”
The new language reads: This specification does not address hazards created by blatant misuse of a product including, but not limited to, use of the product in a manner that is neither intended by the manufacturer nor reasonably foreseeable.
The second key update to F2057 is a new warning label and a test method for determining the “permanence” of that label. The primary change to the warning label is the addition of a “hazard symbol.” It includes a pictograph of a child climbing the drawers of a dresser. Over the pictograph is a hazard symbol consisting of a circle with a line through it. (See below.) The circle and line may be in black or red.
A “permanent warning label” attached “in a conspicuous location when (the clothing storage unit is) in use” is among the requirements of the stability standard. The 2017 update includes the following clarification for the word “permanent”:
• A paper label shall be considered permanent if, during an attempt to remove it without the aid of tools or solvents, it cannot be removed, it tears into pieces upon removal, or such action damages the surface to which it is attached.
• A non-paper label shall be considered permanent if, during an attempt to remove it without the aid of tools or solvents, it cannot be removed or such action damages the surface to which it is attached.
Finally, the standard adds a specific adhesion test to be performed on the label. If the warning statement is still legible and attached after the test, it is considered permanent.
ASTM International welcomes and encourages participation in the development and updating of its standards. Among those contributing to the F2057 revisions in addition to Perdue were executives from furniture manufacturers and importers (both AHFA member companies and non-member companies), representatives from consumer safety groups such as the nonprofit organization Kids in Danger, CPSC staff members and even parents who have lost children in tip-over accidents. Information on becoming a member of ASTM is available from Leonard Morrissey, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copies of the revised furniture stability standard, now known as F2057-17, will be available for download from the ASTM website, www.astm.org, upon final publication.