President re-nominates Buerkle to chair CPSC

Ann Marie Buerkle

President Donald Trump in January re-nominated Ann Marie Buerkle to serve as chair of the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Buerkle, a former member of Congress from New York State, has served on the CPSC since 2013 and has been acting chair since February 2017. Later that year, Trump formally nominated her for that post, but the Senate never acted to confirm her.

“The business community has been very supportive of Ms. Buerkle’s nomination,” the National Law Review reported Jan. 24. “As Acting Chair, Buerkle has worked hard to secure funding for the agency and has shown a relatively light hand in making policy and personnel changes. She has also repeatedly stated her interest in working collaboratively with all stakeholders to advance consumer product safety. Acting Chair Buerkle has voiced a strong preference for voluntary over mandatory standards, which the business community sees as a more flexible and adaptable approach.”

One area where the CPSC has shown a preference for voluntary safety standards is furniture stability. ASTM, formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials, publishes standards to reduce the risk of tip-over accidents, and it is in the process of considering changes that would extend the standards to more home furnishings products.

In a statement to the Home Furnishings Association in December 2018, Buerkle said: “Furniture tip-over prevention is a critical safety issue, and I strongly support the voluntary standards activities underway to address this ‘hidden’ hazard. I very much look forward to hearing more of the standard’s development, including clothing storage units 30 inches and under. While this important work is underway, I urge consumers to visit AnchorIt.gov and Anchor It! Tip-overs are preventable by properly attaching or anchoring TVs, dressers and other furniture to a wall.”

HFA strongly supports the voluntary standards and CPSC’s Anchor It! campaign. HFA encourages furniture retailers to offer products that meet the voluntary safety standards.

The CPSC staff in October released a report attributing 542 deaths to furniture, television and appliance tip-over in the United States from 2000 through 2017. More than 80 percent of the victims were 14 years old or younger. Most of those incidents involved televisions or televisions and furniture, such as a television placed on top of a chest, bureau or dresser. Thirty percent, or 165 deaths, involved only furniture.

Buerkle was a registered nurse before earning a law degree from Syracuse University. She was an assistant New York attorney general until her election to Congress in 2010.

Trump nominated her to a seven-year term on the CPSC, but she’ll have to step down later his year if she isn’t confirmed by the Senate.

Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore

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