Congratulations to Our Dresser Tip-Over Clients on Achieving a Major Milestone in the Fight to Keep Children Safe in Their Bedrooms

Several former Feldman Shepherd clients whose children died from IKEA dresser tip-overs — along with other child safety advocates — have achieved a major milestone in their fight to protect kids from dressers that are unsafe and unstable by design.

On April 19, 2023, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to adopt a mandatory safety standard to protect young children from tip-overs of dressers, armoires, wardrobes, and other clothing storage units. The new standard comes after President Biden signed the STURDY Act (Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act) into law in December 2022.

The STURDY Act directed the CPSC to adopt a voluntary safety standard set by standard-setting organization ASTM International into law provided it comported with certain performance requirements in STURDY. The standard had to include stability tests that simulate the weight of a child up to 60 pounds interacting with the dresser as well as other real-world conditions like placement on carpet or multiple drawers open at once.

The ASTM standard, which was updated in February 2023, is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders including parents who have lost children to dresser tip-overs, the furniture and retail industries, consumer advocates and child-safety experts.

The new safety rule is expected to go into effect in August 2023, 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register. It supersedes a mandatory federal safety standard for dressers passed by the CPSC in October 2022, which was set to take effect in May 2023. While child safety advocates (including parents who have lost children to dresser tip-overs) supported the CPSC standard, key players in the U.S. residential furniture industry did not, and challenged it in a federal lawsuit. As a result, the CPSC standard was mired in what was likely to be protracted litigation, and its future was uncertain.

From January 2000 through April 2022 there were 234 reported fatalities from dressers tipping over, including 199 child fatalities, according to the CPSC. The CPSC estimates that there were 84,100 dresser tip-over-related injuries (an estimated annual average of 5,300 injuries) treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments from 2006 through 2021. Of these, an estimated 72 percent were injuries to children.

Even with the new rule in place, there is still work to be done. As stated by CPSC Commissioner Mary T. Boyle: “Making a difference today does not stop us from making a difference tomorrow. Protecting consumers — especially children — does not end here. Indeed, the rule simply sets the baseline for what happens next. That means ensuring that the agency pursues vigorous enforcement using all the tools at our disposal, including robust e-commerce surveillance, heightened activity at the ports, and stepped-up compliance inspections. Firms that fail to comply with this mandatory standard should bear the full weight of the law, including penalties and any other available sanctions.”

The new standard only applies to dressers manufactured and sold after its effective date, and consequently an untold number of older-model unsafe and unstable dressers will remain in use in people’s homes. To improve safety, consumers can anchor their dressers and other furniture to a wall, where possible. The CPSC provides information on how to wall-anchor furniture at Anchor It.

From January 2000 through July 2022, there were 43 recalls in response to dresser tip-over hazards, involving more than 21 million dressers. Consumers can check the CPSC public database of product recalls to find out if the dresser in their home has been recalled.

Congratulations to Our Dresser Tip-Over Clients

The STURDY Act was passed in no small part due to tireless efforts by grieving parents, consumer organizations and elected representatives who all coalesced around the principle that dressers that can easily tip over have no place in people’s homes, particularly when accessible to children. Over the course of many years and a number of disheartening setbacks, this group never wavered in their commitment to creating a mandatory, strong and durable safety standard that would significantly reduce tip-overs and save children’s lives.

Every day at Feldman Shepherd, we are inspired by so many of our clients who turn their grief into purpose and work resolutely to spare other families from tragedies similar to their own. We extend our gratitude and appreciation to all our furniture tip-over clients — as well as to the many other dedicated advocates — who helped to achieve this major milestone in the fight to keep children safe in their bedrooms.