On October 19, 2022, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or Commission) approved a Final Rule imposing mandatory safety requirements for clothing storage units (CSUs) that will, according to the CPSC, “significantly change the way clothing storage units are tested and labeled” to address furniture tip-over hazards. The rulemaking has been in the works since 2017, after the CPSC reviewed incident data for furniture tip-overs and determined that CSUs were the primary furniture category involved in fatal and non-fatal incidents caused by tip-overs.
The Rule will supersede voluntary standards, including ASTM F2057-19, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Units.
The Rule becomes effective 180 days after publication in the Federal Register (which has not occurred as of this writing) and applies to CSUs manufactured after its effective date. The Rule defines a “CSU” as:
- “a consumer product that is a freestanding furniture item,
- with drawer(s) and/or door(s), that may be reasonably expected to be used for storing clothing,
- that is designed to be configured to be greater than or equal to 27 inches in height (including units with adjustable heights that reach 27 inches),
- has a mass greater than or equal to 57 pounds with all extendable elements filled with at least 8.5 pounds/cubic foot times their functional volume (cubic feet),
- has a total functional volume of the closed storage greater than 1.3 cubic feet, and
- has a total functional volume of the closed storage greater than the sum of the total functional volume of the open storage and the total volume of the open space.”
The Rule excludes lightweight units weighing under 57 lbs. when filled with clothing and products such as shelving units or office furniture that do not meet the definition of a CSU.
New Stability Requirements
CSU stability requirements are now required to “reflect real-world factors, like multiple open drawers, drawers containing clothing-representative loads, angling CSUs to replicate the effects of placement on the carpet and forces a child exerts while climbing or pulling on a CSU, all of which are shown to occur during CSU tip-overs and contribute to their instability.” It also includes testing methods for interlocks that prevent drawers from being opened all at the same time.
Information Marking Requirements
The new standard mandates that CSUs are marked and labeled with safety and identification information and that the information is accompanied by a tag that provides performance and technical data about the product’s stability.
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The Commission voted 3-to-1 to approve the standard. Commissioner Peter Feldman, voting no, issued a statement in which he expressed concern that a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPR) was needed to minimize the chance of a successful legal challenge because the draft Final Rule differed from the version issued for public comment. He also suggested that issuing a Supplemental Notice would have allowed the House to consider the Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act, which passed the Senate. It remains to be seen if furniture industry members will seek to challenge the Rule or if Congress will pass the STURDY Act.