On April 19, 2023, the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or Commission) voted to adopt ASTM F2057-23 as a mandatory safety standard to prevent injuries and deaths of children from the tip-over of freestanding clothing storage units (CSUs). The newly adopted standard supersedes a prior CPSC safety standard for CSUs that was due to take effect May 24, 2023, and was passed to meet the requirements of the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act (STURDY Act or Act), which was signed into law on December 23, 2022. Adoption of the revised ASTM standard should help eliminate confusion and facilitate compliance by industry and will become mandatory 120 days from publication in the Federal Register (which has not yet occurred as of this writing). That means the likely effective date will be somewhere around the end of August.
The STURDY Act directs the CPSC to examine and assess the effectiveness of “any voluntary consumer product safety standards” for CSUs and promulgate a safety standard pursuant to the Act within one year. The standard applies to all CSUs 27 inches and above and requires testing that simulates the weight of children up to 60 pounds and accounts for real-world use—including the stability of the unit when placed on carpet, with items in drawers, with multiple open drawers, and with dynamic force. Warning labels for CSUs are also required.
The Commission vote to approve the new standard was 3-1. In statements, Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric and Commissioner Peter Feldman welcomed the new standard, noting it enjoys broad consensus across industry and advocacy groups. Commissioner Richard Trumka, dissenting, issued a statement in which he characterized approval of the new rule as a “grave error” that went against prior advice of CPSC staff. However, Commissioner Mary Boyle noted in her statement approving the vote that the new rule, while different from the prior CPSC mandatory safety standard, is what Congress required under the STURDY Act. Commissioner Boyle concluded “that it is reasonable to determine that ASTM F2057-23 meets the requirements of STURDY” and will “make a meaningful difference for safety.”
CPSC estimates that from January 2000 through April 2022, CSU tip-overs were responsible for the deaths of 199 children and thousands of emergency room visits. The Commission’s vote ended nearly two decades of work and uncertainty on the issue of CSU tip-overs. With a final rule pending, industry and parents can feel reassured that all CSUs covered by the rule will be subject to the same safety standard. Notably, the final rule had the support of both the furniture industry and Parents Against Tip-Overs, an NGO that championed efforts to establish a mandatory safety standard.