STURDY Act: Cause for alarm

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STURDY Act_HFA blog

On the surface, the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act, which passed the House in June 2021 and is under consideration in the Senate, seems straightforward. It heralds strict new mandatory requirements to address furniture tip-overs. Unfortunately, the intentions of the STURDY Act simply don’t translate into the best path forward.

Our industry cares deeply about the safety of children and those who buy home furnishings. Furniture buying is personal, and customers connect with retailers in unique ways. Today the issue of tip over, which the STURDY Act intends to address, is managed by industry and stakeholder efforts. Currently, there is a voluntary standard for tip-over prevention (ASTM F2057-19) that some manufacturers have adopted. They have self-regulated and made furniture safer by increasing the dimensions and weight of items like children’s dressers. The focus is on safety and protecting small children who may climb on the piece of furniture. Our industry supports adopting the voluntary standard as a mandatory standard for all children’s clothing storage units because it addresses the risk of tip-over at the most vulnerable age profile. Once made permanent, we encourage the CPSC to enforce compliance with this standard from all manufacturers.

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Deputy Executive Director DeWane Ray stated that “We believe many of these deaths (between 2000 and 2017) could have been prevented if the clothing storage units complied with the current ASTM F2057-17 standard.”

There’s an element of the STURDY Act that gets little attention yet is misleading not only to our industry but should alarm consumers. Part of this act would fast-track regulations through the CPSC. It would allow the CPSC to implement a mandatory standard without sufficient input from stakeholders or a mandatory review from the Office of Management and Budget. This accelerated process could lead to an unproven standard that is impossible to meet and confusing for consumers to understand.

This is a dangerous course. Feedback and input are critical in the forming of any safety regulation. All voices need to be heard. If the STURDY Act is enacted, it opens the door for new rules to be pushed through with little input, discussion, and contemplation. Therefore, we join our colleagues at the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) in favoring existing rulemaking authority at the CPSC over a legislative solution. CPSC currently can create a mandatory standard. That process would allow for stakeholder input by CPSC receiving and responding to comments. This is how effective safety standards should be developed and implemented.

There is another critical element of this issue. Many manufacturers and our HFA members retailers provide tip restraints to customers who purchase children’s clothing storage units. These restraints anchor furniture to the wall. The instructions are simple, as is the technology. It’s a significant way to mitigate risk to our kids. Our industry already provides these for free, and I can think of no greater statement of how important child safety is than that.

All of the tools and processes necessary to ensure the safety of American families and their children are already at our fingertips.

  • We support the implementation of a voluntary standard as mandatory.
  • We are committed to doing whatever is possible to ensure additional safety tools are in the hands of parents at no cost.
  • We are committed to helping parents understand how to use these tools so they can protect their children.

The remedies are here. Let’s put all of our efforts into ensuring that all manufacturers meet the voluntary standard and that the public is aware of how we can partner with them to ensure their homes are safe. That is our goal.

We do not need the STURDY Act. We need to focus on all the proven remedies already available to ensure the safety of American consumers and their children now.

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