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CPSC Calls on Industry to Comply With Stability Standard

The commission announced that products failing to comply with the industry’s voluntary stability standard, ASTM F2057-17, will be regarded as a “substantial product hazard.”

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In a letter addressed to manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of residential bedroom furniture, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today announced that products failing to comply with the industry’s voluntary stability standard, ASTM F2057-17, will be regarded as a “substantial product hazard.”

Under Section 15(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Act, CPSC has authority to “seek corrective action” – typically including a recall – when products are deemed to present a “substantial hazard.”

“CPSC received numerous reports of child fatalities that occurred between 2000 and 2017 associated with clothing storage unit tip overs,” CPSC Deputy Executive Director DeWane Ray stated in the letter. “We believe many of these deaths could have been prevented if the clothing storage units complied with the current ASTM F2057-17 standard.”

ASTM F2057-17 currently covers all clothing storage units over 30 inches in height. It requires these units to be engineered for stability. Compliant pieces must pass two stability tests, carry a permanent warning label and be shipped to the consumer with tip restraints and instructions for installing those restraints.

To pass the first stability test, an empty unit must not tip when doors, if any, are opened 90 degrees, and all drawers are fully extended to the “stop.” (In absence of a “stop,” drawers are opened two-thirds of the way.) To pass the second stability test, the empty piece must not tip when one drawer is open to the “stop” (or two-thirds open in absence of a “stop”) and a 50-pound weight is gradually applied to the front edge of the open drawer. The piece must pass this second test in the same manner for each drawer and door in the unit. The 50-pound weight is intended to simulate the weight of an average five-year-old (60-month) child. 

“AHFA has long maintained that ‘voluntary’ does not mean ‘optional’ when it comes to the stability standard,” American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill Perdue said in response to the CPSC’s notice.

“AHFA has urged its member companies to participate on the ASTM Furniture Safety Subcommittee, which oversees the stability standard. We provide compliance guidance on our website that is accessible to both member and non-member companies, and we hold a Regulatory Summit each year during which CPSC officials regularly offer detailed updates on the stability standard.

“AHFA also has made substantial investments in research and analysis to support meaningful and effective updates to the standard,” Perdue continued. “We urge any company producing or importing non-compliant products that are within the scope of this standard to contact us if they need compliance guidance.”

According to the CPSC’s February 27 letter, companies "should not manufacture, import, distribute or sell clothing storage units that are within the scope of the ASTM F2057 standard but do not comply with its requirements."

Because children face an “unreasonable risk of serious injury or death” from non-compliant clothing storage units, CPSC says it will consider these products to have “a defect which could present a substantial product hazard under Section 15(a) of the (Consumer Product Safety Act).”

“Should we encounter such products, we shall initiate an investigation and will seek the corrective action we believe is appropriate,” Ray concluded.

The ASTM furniture stability standard was established in 2000. It was updated in 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2017. Another revision – this one lowering the height of covered units to 27 inches and establishing a separate warning label for clothing storage units that are intended to hold a television (typically called a “media chest”) – is expected to be finalized this year.

ASTM F2057-17, Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Units, can be purchased from ASTM International for $48.

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