By Lars Petersson
Furniture tip-over has been in the news a lot lately, and with very good reason. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a child dies every two weeks from a furniture tip-over accident. This is a far bigger concern and issue than IKEA chests of drawers – it includes many furniture items, televisions, and stoves and other appliances.
There have been questions about our response to the threat of furniture tip-over and our focus on voluntary industry standards as a solution to the problem. At IKEA, we understand the very serious safety concern that furniture tip-over represents, and that’s why we are doing everything we can to raise awareness about this important safety issue. We are also working with the CPSC to improve voluntary industry standards, but we disagree that standards alone are enough.
Wall attachment remains – by far – the best way to prevent accidents. Downplaying the need for wall attachment increases the chance that consumers will ignore this critical part of the assembly instructions.
Items such as chests of drawers must be attached to the wall, regardless of whether or not they meet a voluntary standard that is, in our opinion, inadequate for preventing accidents – even if that standard is strengthened or made mandatory.
We are committed to doing what’s right to help further reduce this risk and have been working for years to do so. Tip-over restraints have been included with our chests of drawers for decades – along with warning signs and clear instructions for wall attachment.
In early 2015, we launched the Secure It! campaign, which sought to educate consumers about tip-over prevention. Later that year, we worked with the CPSC to launch a repair program, which distributed free wall attachment kits to consumers who had not utilized the tip-over restraints included with their original purchase. We invested millions of dollars in the effort to educate consumers.
Last year, recognizing that we needed to do more, we worked with the CPSC to implement a recall. Our concern with a recall was always that people might return their recalled chest and buy a new one – from us or another retailer – with a false sense of security and without understanding the need for wall attachment. Once that decision was made, however, we launched a robust recall program that included unprecedented in-home pickup or wall-attachment assistance and went beyond what was required of us – including a national TV, print, and digital advertising campaign.
Preventing future tragedies requires everyone’s efforts. We’re working to make real progress on tip-over prevention. Not only will we continue to educate consumers about the need for wall attachment and work to strengthen voluntary standards, but we’re also designing innovations that will provide new ways of making furniture safer. Consumers must do their part to make their homes safe as well – and attaching furniture and appliances to the wall is a vital part of that process.
The media can be part of the solution – by helping spread the message that furniture tip-over is a serious home safety issue and that wall attachment is the very best way to keep families safe.
Lars Petersson is IKEA’s U.S. president. LarsPetersson.email@example.com