Yesterday’s meeting covered two issues in which Consumers Union has played a leadership role: Furniture tip over and glass furniture safety. ASTM recently strengthened its furniture tip-over standard, which CU previously proved was too weak to protect children who become victims of falling furniture far too often. The current standard is better in that it now requires that most furniture used for clothing storage, such as dressers, be shipped with a tip restraint for anchoring to the wall. The item must also bear a warning label that says children should not be allowed to climb on the furniture and that cautions against placing a heavy object, such as a TV, atop furniture not intended for that use.
But because of the likelihood that consumers won’t install the tip restraint or heed the warnings, we think furniture should be inherently stable—that is, remain stable if a child climbs up fully-opened drawers. Some manufacturers argue that they want to test for that scenario by opening the drawers only two-thirds of the way. But that’s not how drawers are used, particularly if you’re searching for that missing pair of argyle socks.
With much wrangling at yesterday’s meeting, we were able to reach a complex compromise that sets a more rigorous testing standard, which should help ensure that furniture is more stable in the future. The changes must be approved by the committee.
As we’ve reported before, lacerations from glass in furniture are responsible for about 20,000 visits to the emergency room each year, mostly serious injuries to children. The Today Show covered this topic yesterday and featured footage of our testing.
Federal regulations require the use of safety glass in shower doors, storm doors, and patios doors, but there’s not even a voluntary standard for safety glass in furniture. We’re working to change that and, together with a few committee members, introduced a proposed safety standard that will require either tempered or laminated glass to be used in tables. ASTM committee members will vote on the proposed standard, but it may take months or years, to reach consensus. We hope to see some progress on this standard before the grass starts growing again next spring.—Don Mays
"But because of the likelihood that consumers won’t install the tip restraint or heed the warnings, we think furniture should be inherently stable—that is, remain stable if a child climbs up fully-opened drawers."
Wow. there are a few other ways to make furniture more stable but consumers will not like them. If you put feet on the dresser that were as long as the full extension length of the drawers then the dresser would not tip, but they would be a huge tripping hazard and would make it harder to clean the floor.
If the manufacturer includes a strap and warning, and the parent ignores it, then it is their problem if it tips.