Tip-Over Regulation Clarity – a Conversation

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Furniture World asked Luke Simpson, president and CEO of Ontario-based Durham Furniture, to comment on tip-over regulations set to go into effect in May 2023. Durham Furniture produces quality solid wood bedroom and occasional furniture. 

His answers provide some clarity regarding what practical actions furniture manufacturers and retailers might need to take to get their organizations into compliance.

Q. What will the new rules require manufacturers like Durham Furniture to do?

“The rules,” Simpson explained, “provide very few exceptions, they apply to furniture with enclosed storage that’s 27 inches or greater in height and have more than 1.3 cubic feet of storage space.

“The method we use to determine counterweight requirements to meet the compliance ratio is to find out how much weight needs to be added to the extended drawer of for example, a free-standing dresser. That is calculated specifically per case using the criteria of the rule and applied to the top drawer. This calculation is anywhere between 70 to 80+ lbs. for many of our pieces.

“This baseline calculation is affected by how far the drawers are allowed to extend out. We apply the required weight and add counterweight until we determine the necessary offset amount. Interlocks that allow only one drawer to open at a time can help reduce the amount of counter weight needed.

“Manufacturers are talking about having to add anywhere between 60 to 120 pounds of counterweight to a clothing unit to be in compliance.

“All the furniture manufacturers I’ve spoken to are kind of scratching their heads about how to adapt certain items like nightstands,” he continued. “Many typical nightstands have three drawers and are 28 to 31 inches tall. The rules, using the 1.3 cubic foot maximum allowed size apply to these pieces, and requires nightstands to hold that same 70 to 80+ pounds on an extended front drawer.

“Looking at it from my perspective, typical nightstands will not be able to comply with the standard. Some plan to reduce nightstand size to under 27” high. It’s not necessarily a change that consumers want, but other strategies can be used, such as removing storage space from normal-size units to get under the 1.3 cubic foot maximum.

Q. Will wall units with combinations of open and closed shelving, and chests with drawers not normally used for clothing storage be affected?

Simpson noted that the standard is clear. “The problem, he said, “is that other pieces of furniture, not necessarily associated with the bedroom, may be covered under the standard. It doesn’t matter what room it goes in or what we call it. If furniture is 27 inches or taller in height and has more than 1.3 cubic feet of storage space, it technically falls under the standard with few exceptions.

Q: Are there unique challenges for Durham Furniture as a Canadian furniture manufacturer dealing with these issues?

“We’ve had little feedback from the Canadian equivalent to the CPSC, Health Canada. Back in 2016, they adopted the ASTM standard. Right now, uncertainty regarding what the CPSC will decide is confusing everything. However, Health Canada will likely, at some point, release an updated mandatory standard to be in lockstep with the U.S.”

Q. How are furniture retailers going to be affected?

“In the United States and Canada, many small independent retailers are struggling to keep up with the issue. As a Canadian manufacturer that also works with retailers in the U.S., we need to manufacture one product line that conforms to both the U.S. and Canadian standards.”

Regarding the question of what retailers will need to do in the areas of adjusting inventory already in retail warehouses or dealing with non-compliant items on order, “in general,” Simpson told Furniture World, “Durham produces custom order product, so our cutoff is pretty clear – anything manufactured after May 24, 2023. I’m still trying to understand the inventory issues to be able to help retailers that ask.”

About Luke Simpson and Durham Furniture: Luke Simpson is president and CEO of Ontario-based Durham Furniture. Since 1899, Durham Furniture has been among the premier bedroom and occasional furniture manufacturers in North America. Durham offers more than 40 finishes for most pieces and collections, and brands include Durham, PerfectBalance and Vokes Furniture. All furniture is crafted at the Ontario, Canada plant, using lean manufacturing methods while still relying extensively on the human touch. For more information visit: www.durhamfurniture.com

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