The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) this week proposed amendments to “STURDY” – the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act – to bring clarity and increased effectiveness to the proposed legislation.
STURDY passed the House in 2017 and again in 2019 but was unable to advance in the Senate. Ambiguities in the legislation, as proposed, are likely to result in another impasse, according to AHFA.
STURDY requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to develop a mandatory stability standard for clothing storage furniture. STURDY outlines specific new stability test methods to account for “real world” use and the foreseeable interactions of children with clothing storage furniture.
It also mandates that this rule be developed in accordance with Section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act – a fast-track rulemaking that allows the Commission to bypass cost-benefit analysis and to forego response to industry comments and concerns.
As currently written, STURDY also grants CPSC the ability to revise the regulation at any time – again, without industry input or analysis.
Amendments proposed by AHFA this week would limit the fast-track rulemaking to children’s products as defined by the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). By incorporating the clear definition of a “children’s product” from the CPSA, STURDY’s provisions would apply to clothing storage units designed or intended primarily for children age 12 and under.
AHFA further proposed that STURDY be expanded to require the adoption of ASTM International’s F2057-19 – the current standard for clothing storage units – as a mandatory standard for general clothing storage furniture not defined as children’s products.
AHFA has long supported a strong mandatory stability standard for clothing storage furniture. The absence of an enforceable mandatory standard continues to result in the sale of non-compliant clothing storage units, which are involved in the majority of tip-over fatalities involving children.
“AHFA’s proposed approach ensures a rigorous stability standard for all clothing storage furniture,” stated AHFA CEO Andy Counts. “It ensures all clothing storage units are engineered to remain stable under the weight of a curious toddler. It ensures all CSUs include a warning label alerting parents to potential tip-over hazards. And it ensures all CSUs arrive at the customer’s home with tested tip restraints and instructions for installing them.” All of these requirements are contained within the current ASTM standard.
At the same time, the approach recommended by AHFA would subject furniture specifically marketed for a child’s room to additional safety specifications outlined in STURDY that address “real life” circumstances unique to families with small children. Some of the scenarios identified by parents and reflected in STURDY’s requirements include a child climbing with multiple drawers open and the dynamic force of a child climbing on or playing in open drawers.
In addition to the differentiation for children’s products, AHFA also has proposed an automatic update provision in STURDY. With this provision, any future updates to the ASTM standard would become part of the mandatory standard for general clothing storage furniture within 180 days. The ASTM Subcommittee on Furniture Safety currently is researching new test methods that account for “real world” use of general clothing storage furniture, such as testing on a carpeted surface, testing with drawers loaded and testing with multiple drawers open at the same time.