The Ashley Homestore website includes an important safety page. The retail giant and Home Furnishings Association member offers statistics about tip-over accidents and instructions for anchoring chests and dressers securely in place. Consumers – whether they’re Ashley customers or not – are invited to request free tip-restraint kits.
Those are positive steps toward addressing a problem that has received intense regulatory and legislative attention during 2019. But most furniture retailers aren’t taking those steps. Nor are they delivering other safety messages, according to the American Home Furnishings Alliance.
AHFA launches 20+20 Project
AHFA has launched an initiative, fully supported by the HFA, to change that. At its Regulatory Summit in October, AHFA announced the 20+20 Project to elevate safety messaging throughout the industry. The project’s name comes from anticipated inaugural participation by 20 leading manufacturers and 20 leading retailers.
A survey by AHFA’s Vice President of Communications Patricia Bowling found that few top companies say anything about safety on their websites.
“Specifically, most companies fail to state that their products comply with the voluntary furniture stability standard, ASTM F2057-19,” AHFA said in an Oct. 30 news release. “Also, within the typical list of product attributes, companies seldom mention the tip restraint kit that is included with the purchase of any compliant product.”
Fill ‘information gap’ with safety messages
“This information gap is equally apparent on retail websites, according to Bowling’s research,” AHFA said. “None of the top 20 retail websites mention whether their bedroom storage furniture complies with the ASTM stability standard, including those products designed for children’s rooms. Only a handful mention whether a product comes with a tip restraint for anchoring the product to the wall. A few include helpful information on how to install a tip restraint or a link to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website, www.AnchorIt.gov.”
Many manufacturers – as well as retailers Ashley Homestore and City Furniture – participate in the UL stability verification program. They test their products according to UL protocols to certify them as compliant with ASTM standards. But few of those companies make that clear to consumers.
Help customers find compliant products
The 20+20 Project aims to develop clear and consistent safety messages. It will lead consumers to ASTM-complaint products and help them learn how to secure bedroom furniture. The overriding goal is to reduce tip-over accidents.
The program presents a good opportunity for HFA members to help promote industry best practices and win trust among their customers that safety is a top priority. City Furniture has indicated it will participate. Others who are interested should contact HFA’s government relations liaison, Doug Clark, at 916-757-1167 or AHFA’s Pat Bowling at 336-881-1006.