Hundreds of young children have died and thousands have been injured from falling furniture or televisions in the past two decades. A majority of tip-over deaths involve children under the age of 6. But previously, there was only a voluntary safety standard in place for furniture sold in the U.S. Consumer safety advocates have criticized the standard, established by a committee of the standards development organization ASTM International, for being too weak, as well as voluntary.
The STURDY Act, which was sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Rep. Jan Schakowsky D-Ill., will require the CPSC to establish a mandatory rule for dresser sturdiness, strengthen testing requirements, and mandate strong warning labels. Dressers will now have to be tested in conditions that more accurately reflect real-world use—for instance, resting on carpets, containing the weight of clothes, and with drawers open.
“Since 2000, more than 470 children have tragically died from furniture tip-overs,” Schakowsky says. “With the passage of the STURDY Act, a bill I introduced and have fought so hard for, we will now implement mandatory furniture stabilization standards. This would not have been possible without all the support we have received from advocates, survivors, and victims’ families who have bravely shared their stories.”
Brett Horn’s 2-year-old son Charlie was killed in 2007 when a dresser fell onto him, and Horn has been fighting for stricter safety standards ever since. He’s now the chair of the advocacy group Parents Against Tip-Overs (PAT), which has pushed for this bill’s passage.
“We are thrilled that STURDY is finally going to become law; it’s a long-overdue solution to an easily fixable problem that industry has known the answer to for many, many years,” Horn says.
Horn’s colleague at PAT, Kimberly Amato, says she feels relieved more than anything else.
“This is a strong and effective standard, and it’s stronger than anything else we’ve ever had in the past, and it’s going to save lives,” Amato says, speaking with CR on the 18-year anniversary of the day she buried her 3-year-old daughter Meghan.
The American Home Furnishings Alliance applauded the passage of the STURDY Act, saying that it “will provide manufacturers with a clear pathway to compliance.” The AHFA is an industry trade group that represents hundreds of manufacturers and importers of furniture in the U.S. “The amended version of STURDY was the result of an extraordinary collaborative effort between industry, parent groups, and consumer advocates to address real-world conditions that contribute to furniture tip-overs,” says Bill Perdue, the group’s vice president of regulatory affairs.
CR’s safety advocates also highlighted how the bill’s passage was a group effort.
“This hard-fought victory would not have been possible without the courageous parent advocates who shared their stories, transformed their grief into action, and successfully urged Congress to ensure that no other family would have to suffer the preventable loss of a child,” says Gabe Knight, policy advocate at CR.