New bill would set mandatory standard for furniture stability

jan schakowskyPhoto: @janschakowsky

A new STURDY Act would direct the Consumer Products Safety Commission to set tough regulations meant to prevent furniture tip-overs.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the bill April 10 with three co-sponsors, all Democrats. A fourth Democrat signed on to the measure April 12.

STURDY stands for Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act. “Tipping furniture presents a serious risk of injury and death to children,” a press release from Schakowsky’s office said. “Furniture or items on top of furniture such as TVs can fall onto a child, causing the child to be crushed, trapped or struck by falling objects.”

Schakowsky chairs a House subcommittee on consumer safety and held a CPSC oversight hearing April 9. She urged the agency to support a mandatory safety standard. Currently, CPSC urges the furniture industry to comply with ASTM voluntary stability standards.

The standards cover clothing storage units taller than 30 inches and require units to stand upright with the empty top drawer extended and 50 pounds of weight applied to it. Currently, ASTM is considering revisions that would cover units down to 27 inches in height and increase the testing weight to 60 pounds.

Schakowsky’s bill would go further, leaving no minimum height for units covered and requiring testing with the heavier weight that more closely simulates “real-world use including to account for impact on clothing storage unit stability of carpeting, drawers with items in them, multiple open drawers and dynamic force.”

Industry groups, including the Home Furnishings Association, don’t agree that those changes are warranted. During the April 9 hearing, CPSC Acting Chairwoman Ann Marie Buerkle testified that the agency has no data to show that stricter testing protocols than those used for ASTM’s current safety standard would improve safety. HFA members should contact their representatives and ask them to oppose the STURDY Act.

A hearing on the STURDY Act has not been scheduled.