Mandatory rule for furniture stability published
November 28, 2022 | 11:16 am CST

BETHESDA, Md. – A new mandatory product safety rule designed to reduce the number of injuries and deaths associated with furniture tipping over on young children was published in the Federal Register on November 25.

The Safety Standard for Clothing Storage Units drafted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission takes effect 180 days after its publication, giving home furnishings manufacturers and importers until May 24, 2023, to engineer and test their products to meet the rule’s minimum stability requirements and to add the required warning label and hangtag to all covered units. 

Publishing the standard comes while Congress is considering its legislation, the Sturdy Act. The U.S. Senate passed an amended version of the STURDY Act by unanimous consent in September, bringing a mandatory furniture stability standard within one final vote of becoming law.

The Senate version of STURDY (S. 3232) – the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act – was modified from the original version passed by the House in June 2021. Therefore, the legislation must go back to the House one more time for a final vote.

CPSC rule

Tipover rule The CPSC rule applies to freestanding chests, dressers, armoires and bureaus but is not limited to furniture that is marketed for “clothing storage.” Storage furniture that is 27” or more in height with a total functional volume of closed storage (drawers and/or interior cabinet space) and open storage (shelves) greater than 1.3 cubic feet falls within the scope of the standard. Nightstands, shelving units, office storage, dining storage, accent chests and any other type of storage furniture meeting this functional definition must be tested and labeled according to the requirements outlined in the rule.

In anticipation of the rule’s publication, the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) invited the CPSC to participate in a workshop in North Carolina next month.

“The Safety Standard for Clothing Storage Units published by the CPSC on Friday [Nov. 25] is a very complex rule with a proposed minimum stability threshold that will generate many questions as manufacturers and importers attempt to implement it across a wide array of products,” said AHFA CEO Andy Counts. “A better understanding of the requirements in the final rule is critical, and a workshop would provide the agency with an excellent opportunity to provide clarity and constructive guidance.”

In October., the CPSC voted to approve a federal safety standard for clothing storage furniture. According to an AHFA statement, the group opposed the rule when it was first released in July 2021. In public testimony as well as in detailed written comments submitted to the CPSC in April this year, AHFA cited multiple deficiencies in the two test methods prescribed in the rule for determining product stability.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).