Tip-over changes are coming. How are retail groups prepping members?

HIGH POINT — With changes on the horizon when it comes to clothing storage unit tip-over standards, an informed retailer is a prepared retailer. And a prepared retailer is better equipped to handle the changing landscape.

Along with the AHFA, the Home Furnishings Assn. has been on the front lines in creating a standard that would be acceptable to the furniture industry, consumer safety groups and others. Recently, the HFA posted a link to its website detailing what each considered standard requires and a FAQs page.

mark schumacher, hfa
Mark Schumacher

“That is just the start. Consistently over the past few weeks we have been communicating to our entire membership and the home furnishings industry as a whole about the impacts of the CPSC rule should the commission continue to try and implement it,” said Mark Schumacher, HFA’s executive director. “There are challenges, compliance concerns and risks to retailers that I believe the vast majority of store owners are not truly aware of.”

Schumacher said a lot of the work done by the HFA and AHFA has been behind the scenes and was key in crafting the STURDY Act.

“I also believe that a key factor lost on much of our industry is how, for the past 20 years, AHFA and HFA have fought for a strong mandatory tip-over safety standard,” he said. “Those efforts culminated in the STURDY law which is supported by all stakeholders, including parents groups, consumer groups and safety labs. To me that is a victory and something that our industry should embrace and be proud of. Putting child safety first has been our approach. I am not sure everyone knows that.”

About the two rules

The STURDY Act (Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act) was enacted Dec. 29, 2022, after being passed by Congress as part of the 2023 Omnibus Spending Bill. STURDY requires the CPSC to promulgate a mandatory safety standard for clothing storage furniture that includes certain performance requirements. Those requirements include:

  • Performance tests that simulate “real-world” use of clothing storage furniture, among them a test that accounts for the impact of carpeted flooring on stability, a test that accounts for the impact of “loaded” drawers and multiple drawers open, and a test that simulates the dynamic force of a child climbing or playing on the unit.
  • Performance tests that simulate the weight of children up to 60 pounds.
  • Performance tests that apply to all clothing storage units 27 inches and taller.

ASTM International, a global leader in the development of international voluntary consensus standards for product safety, has published an update of F2057, the voluntary stability standard for clothing storage furniture.

As required by STURDY, the revised ASTM voluntary standard has been published within 60 days of STURDY’s enactment. A joint letter from Parents Against Tip-overs and American Home Furnishings Alliance to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric reminds the commission that the new F2057-23 — along with the amended STURDY Act that endorses it — is the result of parents, industry, consumer advocates and child safety experts all united in the goal to advance child safety.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission rule, published Nov. 25, 2022, with an effective date of May 24, 2023, was designed to address the impact of “real world” scenarios on the stability of clothing storage units. But in its final rule, first released in July 2021, CPSC shifted from objective pass/fail performance tests to an approach focused on comparative “stability ratings” for each individual unit.

To determine this stability rating, CPSC requires manufacturers to calculate each unit’s “tip-over moment,” which is then compared with a “threshold tip-over moment.” Manufacturers have found the instructions for determining these measures to be ambiguous, and the calculations produce variable results.

Retail buying groups join discussion

At its symposium in Las Vegas last month, Furniture Marketing Group had Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs, speak to its members and guests about the coming changes and what they mean. Perdue explained the difference between the new CPSC mandatory standard and the ASTM standard cited in the STURDY Act. He discussed the design changes that likely will result from a new standard and was able to give a sense of the timing and cost of those changes.

Dennis Hoy, FMG
Dennis Hoy

“FMG felt that Bill would be able to convey to Symposium attendees — both retailers and wholesalers — what is certain and what is uncertain regarding the new rule and what changes and challenges may be in store as the new rule becomes effective in May,” said Dennis Hoy, FMG vice president, while noting that the group has been alerting members about potential changes for the last year.

“Based on conversations with member retailers and vendors that were in the audience, Bill did a wonderful job. This is a very complicated matter still cloaked in a great deal of uncertainty. Much uncertainty remains, but Bill clearly communicated where the matter stands currently.”

AVB/BrandSource is doing its best to inform retailers and vendor partners about the upcoming regulation changes. Michael Posa, the group’s general manager for home furnishings told Furniture Today that some of its member vendors have opinions on the ruling, and those thoughts have been passed along to partners. He said the tip-over rule will be among topics discussed at its summit next month in Las Vegas.

Michael Posa, AVB/BrandSource
Michael Posa

“The new CPSC rule that is set to go into effect May 24 is a rule our furniture retailers need to stay informed on. We know these tip-over accidents do happen, and every party involved in the furniture industry, from manufacturing to sales, wants to make sure children are safe,” Posa said. “We are monitoring for developments in the federal court challenge and providing updates and information to our members through our coverage in YoursourceNews.com as the implementation date nears.

“We are also discussing the rule’s impact at our upcoming virtual region meetings, and the upcoming BrandSource Summit in Las Vegas.”

Lark Shirley-Stevens, executive director of marketing and membership for Furniture First, outlined a few steps the buying group is taking to ready its constituents.

In 2021, in its member newsletter, Furniture First shared an educational video (for consumers) that member Oskar Huber shot about tip hazards to get in front of the issue. Also in 2021, the group worked with Moso Retail Environments to develop a package of signage to educate consumers about the importance of anchoring case goods.

Any time there is an informative article in the trades, Furniture First works to share it with members via its bulletin board and CEO Andrew Kauffman’s periodic video messages to members.

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 2 p.m. ET, Furniture First will host a webinar with Purdue to educate members about anti-tip regulations.

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