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Furniture Stability

Schakowsky Reintroduces STURDY

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) reintroduced STURDY, the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act, on February 24. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is expected to introduce the Senate version of the bill.

In announcing the action, Schakowsky described the current voluntary furniture stability standard as “inadequate" and said unstable furniture continues to be a top "hidden household hazard.”

AHFA will offer a members-only webinar at 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 31, to review provisions within STURDY and the potential impact on residential furniture design and manufacturing.

Presenters include Matt Howsare, chair of Cooley LLP's North American product safety practice and a leading global consumer product safety and compliance lawyer, and Chris Andresen, senior vice president at Dutko Government Relations. Registration is on the Events page.

STURDY directs the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a mandatory stability standard within a year of its passage. Importantly, it authorizes the agency to promulgate this standard under section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act, which outlines informal "notice-and-comment" rulemaking procedures.

Unlike the CPSC’s more formal rulemaking, which it has already begun for a mandatory stability standard, Section 553 rulemaking requires only that the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register and that public comments be invited. After a period of review, the agency may choose to respond to some of the comments or none of them. The final rule must be published not less than 30 days before its effective date.

“In contrast, rulemaking under the Consumer Product Safety Act requires the Commission to conduct a detailed cost-benefit analysis and to assess ‘reasonable alternatives’ to the final rule,” explains AHFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill Perdue. Further, CPSC must document that the rule is the least burdensome way of preventing or reducing the risk of injury for the identified hazard. “The benefits of the rule are expected to bear a reasonable relationship to its costs,” Perdue explains. “All of that would be by-passed by STURDY.”

While STURDY limits industry experts from any participation other than submitting written comments, it also proposes sweeping changes to the current voluntary stability standard. Today, ASTM F2057 requires tip tests designed to protect a child up to 5 years of age who may try to climb the drawers of a chest or dresser.

STURDY requires testing to ensure the unit remains upright under the “dynamic force” of a six-year-old’s play activity. It also requires testing of products on carpet, testing with loaded drawers and testing with multiple open drawers.