Many remember the news headlines that covered recent incidents of IKEA furniture falling on and killing young children, several of them crushed to death by dressers or chests in the IKEA “Malm” line. IKEA announced a recall of close to 30 million dressers and chests in June of this year after six children had been killed.
In late December, IKEA reached a settlement with three families whose children were killed, agreeing to pay $50 million to these families over allegations that it was the unsafe design of the furniture that caused those deaths; furniture that did not meet voluntary national safety standards.
Too Many Furniture-Related Deaths Each Year
IKEA is not alone in allegedly being responsible for deaths related to furniture: According to the safety commission, one child dies every two weeks on average in accidents that involve toppled furniture or related items, such as television sets and appliances. This equals 84% of total deaths reported due to incidents like these. Approximately 65% of these children are between 1 and 3.5 years old.
Consumer Safety Standards
Clearly, the danger goes beyond this one line of IKEA furniture, and the loss that many families have experienced surpasses this one individual settlement. But what is the solution? Do we have effective standards in place, and if so, why are they voluntary instead of mandatory?
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission sets safety protocols for furniture like this, also known as “clothing storage units,” which covers dressers, chests, wardrobes, and armoires. One such standard—ASTM F2057-14—is intended to protect children up to age 5 and reduce hazards associated with tip over. It covers furniture that is over 30 inches in height and freestanding, but not bookcases, armoires, and related items.
The standard has two main stability requirements; namely that the empty unity cannot tip over when:
- All of the drawers are open to their full extension; and
- A 50 pound weight is hung from each open drawer at full extension (with only one drawer open at a time).
However, this could be improved by testing the item when the drawers are open two-thirds of their operational sliding length.
Personal Injury Attorneys
Personal injuries occur every day as a result of negligently-produced products. We at Harrell & Nowak have helped many personal injury victims throughout Louisiana obtain financial compensation for their injuries, helping them get back on their feet as they deal with medical bills, damage, and hassles as a result of circumstances that were not their fault. Our injury attorneys work to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair recovery. Contact us today for a free consultation.