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Furniture Stability

Changes Proposed for STURDY Act

A surprising coalition including IKEA along with Parents Against Tip-overs (PAT), Consumer Reports, the Consumer Federation of America and KID (Kids in Danger) jointly submitted proposed changes to the STURDY Act last week for Senate consideration.

AHFA’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill Perdue described their proposed revisions to STURDY as “alarming.”

In February, the Senate’s version of the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers (STURDY) Act (S. 441) was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. It has not yet been scheduled for hearing.

The House version of STURDY passed on June 23. It directs the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to create and finalize a mandatory furniture stability standard to help prevent tip-over incidents involving clothing storage units.

Both versions of STURDY require the new standard to include stability tests that simulate the weight of children up to 60 pounds. Both also call for tests “that simulate real world use,” including testing on carpeting, testing with drawers loaded, testing with multiple drawers open and the dynamic force of a child playing on the unit.

In the mark-up of STURDY submitted by the IKEA/consumer group coalition to Senate minority staff last week, CPSC may expand the scope of the standard at any time to include furniture beyond clothing storage units. This expansion would not have to be based on any particular data or hazard pattern but rather as the CPSC deems “reasonably necessary to protect children up to 72 months of age from injury or death.”

The group’s proposed revisions of STURDY also call on CPSC to develop stability tests that permit “incorporated safety features (excluding tip restraints) to work as intended.” Such safety features could include drawer interlock systems that prevent more than one drawer from opening at a time, as long as the feature “cannot be overridden by consumers in normal use” and are deemed to provide an equivalent or greater level of safety as other required tests in the standard.

In 2016, IKEA recalled more than 17 million noncompliant chests and dressers sold in the U.S., and in February 2020 recalled another 820,000.  In 2019 the company began experimenting with drawer interlock systems. One version of the interlock system allowed one drawer to open at a time but was disengaged if the unit was secured to the wall. A second version prevented any drawers from being opened until the unit was secured to the wall.