With the partial federal government shutdown over, the CPSC appears to be quickly returning to normal—it issued 18 recalls in this month. The agency also took an unusual and noteworthy step by issuing notice that the CPSC would regard clothing storage units that do not meet the industry standard designed to reduce tip-over events to have a defect which could present a substantial product hazard.
Furniture tip-overs have long posed serious risks to small children. Nearly 20 years ago, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) established a voluntary safety standard—ASTM F2057-17—to combat tip-overs of clothing storage units, such as dressers, chests of drawers, and wardrobes. The standard has been revised multiple times over the years, most notably in 2017 after furniture tip-overs again made headlines. The CPSC promptly responded, issuing recalls in February, April, and June of that year. The current standard covers all clothing storage units over 30 inches in height and requires them to pass two stability tests, carry a permanent warning label, and be shipped to consumers with tip restraints along with instructions for installing those restraints.
This month, the CPSC’s Deputy Executive Director authored a letter to manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of clothing storage units. The letter explains that “[c]hildren face an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death from clothing units” that do not comply with the voluntary safety standard. Accordingly, it urged a review of “product line[s] immediately to ensure that all clothing storage units” “comply with [the] ASTM F2057-17 standard where applicable.” The letter also warned: For clothing storage units “that fall within the scope of the ASTM F2057-17 standard but do not meet its requirements,” the CPSC “will regard such products as having a defect which could present a substantial product hazard” under the Consumer Product Safety Act’s Section 15(a) reporting requirements. Thus, for non-compliant units, the CPSC “shall initiate an investigation and will seek the corrective action we believe is appropriate,” including the imposition of civil and criminal penalties. This warning is the commission’s clear declaration that it will focus enforcement efforts on clothing storage units that do not comply with the voluntary safety standard. The CPSC’s warning is not expressly confined to newly manufactured clothing storage units.
Also this month, the commission launched a new CPSC Recall App to make recall information currently on its website more accessible to consumers on their mobile devices. The app permits consumers to search quickly to learn whether a specific product has been recalled.
Total Recalls: 18
Hazards: Fire/Burn/Shock (8); Violation of Federal Standard (4); Injury (2); Choke (1); Laceration (1); Crash (1); Drowning (1)