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ASTM International Expected to Update Voluntary Furniture Stability Standard

ASTM International is expected to publish an update to the voluntary furniture stability standard this month incorporating two new warning labels and expanding the scope of the standard to cover clothing storage furniture 27 inches and taller.

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ASTM International

ASTM International is expected to publish an update to the voluntary furniture stability standard this month incorporating two new warning labels and expanding the scope of the standard to cover clothing storage furniture 27 inches and taller. The previous standard covered furniture over 30 inches.

The updates to ASTM F2057 will become effective immediately upon publication. To comply with the standard, all clothing storage furniture 27 inches and taller must pass two stability tests, carry a permanent warning label and be shipped with tip restraints and instructions for installing them. All manufacturers of clothing storage furniture should obtain a copy of ASTM F2057-19 when it becomes available. It can be ordered from: https://www.astm.org/Standards/F2057.htm.

Although the update becomes effective immediately upon publication, the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) has requested that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) allow manufacturers 180 days to implement the changes necessary to comply with this latest update.

“AHFA supported expanding the scope of F2057 to cover clothing storage furniture 27 inches and taller,” noted AHFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill Perdue. “We also embrace the advisory CPSC issued in February alerting our industry that CPSC’s compliance staff intends to investigate and seek corrective action when it encounters bedroom furniture that does not comply with F2057-19."

AHFA said it believes most of its member companies already are prepared for compliance.

“But some manufacturers will need to redesign units 27 to 30 inches in height to pass the stability tests, and others may decide to remove non-compliant units from their lineup,” said Perdue. “In addition, all companies are having to print and apply the new warning labels required by this 2019 revision. For these reasons, AHFA has requested the 180-day sell-through period, which CPSC has typically allowed after the publication of a substantial ASTM standard update.”

AHFA has further requested that CPSC reissue its February 2019 advisory soon after the ASTM F2057-19 update is published to remind companies that they should not manufacture, import or sell noncompliant clothing storage units starting 180 days after publication of the revised standard.

“It is critical for the agency to give notice and only seek corrective action prospectively based on the date of manufacture or import, just as it would for any regulation issued under the Consumer Product Safety Act. Once the 180-day time period for compliance has lapsed, however, AHFA believes the agency should dedicate the resources necessary to sweep the marketplace, open compliance investigations and seek appropriate corrective action for any noncompliant products manufactured or imported after that compliance deadline,” said Perdue.

The new F2057 tip-over warning labels were approved a year ago but are just now being published. One includes a new hazard symbol – a TV with a red line through it – and the language, “Never put a TV on this product.” This label is intended for all clothing storage furniture 27 inches and taller except that which is designed to hold a television. These pieces are typically called “media chests.”

The second new label is intended specifically for media chests. It requires manufacturers to include a statement addressing how the additional weight of a TV can adversely affect stability and can create a potential hazard. Details on the wording, design and on-product placement for both new labels are included in ASTM F2057-19.

Two additional proposals considered by the ASTM Furniture Safety Subcommittee in June failed to receive approval.  The current standard is designed to cover children “up to and including age five.” One proposal would have expanded the scope to cover “children up to 72 months old.” To account for the weight of these older children, a second proposal would have increased the weight used in product stability testing from 50 to 60 pounds.

“Those opposing these changes cited CPSC data, which consistently shows that children age 12 to 60 months are the primary victims of injuries and fatalities caused by clothing storage furniture tipping over,” said Perdue.  

AHFA supports a CPSC proposal to make the voluntary stability standard mandatory for all manufacturers of clothing storage furniture. The CPSC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for a mandatory stability standard in November 2017. In June this year, AHFA called on the agency to dedicate the necessary resources to move forward quickly with this rulemaking – and to begin more aggressive enforcement activities directed at non-compliant producers and importers. 

Meanwhile, a legislative effort to achieve a mandatory furniture stability standard began advancing through Congress in July. The STURDY Act was favorably reported out of committee to the full House with bipartisan support. The measure would mandate using a heavier weight in stability testing, while also requiring new stability tests designed to simulate “real world use.”

“These ‘real world’ tests have not yet been defined, researched, nor even shown to be feasible,” Perdue pointed out. “If the technical requirements of STURDY are ambiguous, it will be unenforceable. AHFA continues to maintain that the quickest way to protect more children is to mandate and enforce the current standard.”

This year’s update to F2057 is the fifth revision of the standard since it was first adopted in 2000. ASTM develops and publishes voluntary consensus standards used around the world to improve the quality and safety of consumer products. Standards for residential furniture are developed by the Furniture Safety Subcommittee (F15.42), which has more than 150 members representing industry, child safety advocates, media and CPSC staff.

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