Citing Tip-Over Risk, IKEA Recalls 27 Million Dressers

(Philadelphia Inquirer:  Published 07/23/2015, Nadolny, Tricia, Web)

Citing the deaths of two children, including a West Chester boy killed when his dresser toppled onto him, IKEA and federal regulators Wednesday announced a recall affecting 27 million units and said the company would distribute new anchor kits to tether the furniture to the wall.  In a statement issued with the Consumer Products Safety Commission, IKEA said that it had received 14 reports of dressers from its popular MALM line tipping over and that four resulted in injuries.  Furniture tip-overs – most often from unsecured dressers and televisions – lead to more than 38,000 emergency-room visits in the United States each year, according to the safety commission.

IKEA’s move Wednesday was part of what the Swedish home-furnishing giant said was a campaign “to raise awareness of this important home safety issue.”  It prompted praise but also a call for furniture-makers to do more.  “We know that industry can make more stable furniture,” Elliot F. Kaye, the safety commission chairman, said in an interview. “We know it’s not expensive. What’s been lacking is a will to genuinely solve the problem.”

Children, apt to climb on furniture, are especially susceptible to tip-overs. In 2011, the last year for which reliable data are available, tip-overs killed 49 children nationwide – 21 more than the year before, hospital data gathered by the safety commission show.  Experts are unsure what is causing the spike. But they worry that consumers buying flat-screen televisions have placed their old sets on unsuitable furniture such as dressers, creating a volatile mix.  Furniture manufacturers have worked to address the threat with a voluntary industry standard that requires clothing units to come with warning labels and a tip restraint – usually an anchor that the buyer must tether to a wall.  The unit is also expected to be stable on its own, and the standard requires that dressers won’t tip when a drawer is extended and a 50-pound weight, simulating the weight of a child, is added.  The committee that drafts the standard – composed of industry, safety advocates, and parents of children killed by tip-overs – has considered, but not adopted, more stringent standards. And some members have expressed frustration with the pace of the revision process.

Kaye said Wednesday that he thinks the latest version of the standard – instituted in October after a year-and-a-half of delays – could be improved. He said he is considering whether the commission should press for a mandatory standard but said that would be a lengthy process.  “Industry can solve this problem now,” he said.  Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance in Columbus, Ohio, echoed Kaye’s comments, saying that once a product is in homes, the chance of it being repaired is slim.  Only 14 percent of all children’s products recalled in 2013 were successfully corrected or destroyed, according to a May report from Kids in Danger, a nonprofit focused on product safety.

The lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of families in Reading, Berks County, PA, Pottsville, Schuylkill County, PA, and throughout Eastern and Central PA.  The lawyers there handle injury claims, including claims for injuries or death caused by unsafe or dangerous products.

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire.


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