Stability Standard Updated – Furniture Today

This press release is submitted and shown here in its original form, unedited by Furniture Today.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – ASTM International’s Subcommittee on Furniture Safety has revised the industry’s voluntary stability standard as part of its ongoing effort to reduce injuries and deaths associated with the tip-over of residential clothing storage furniture.

According to Bill Perdue, vice president of regulatory affairs for the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), who serves on the subcommittee, the updates include new language in the introduction to the standard, as well as a revised consumer warning label and a method for testing the permanence of that label.

The updated standard, now known as ASTM F2057-17, Standard Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Units , is available on the ASTM website, www.astm.org. It applies to all clothing storage units 30 inches high and taller that are manufactured after today’s date.

The revised introduction to the voluntary stability standard was crafted to address a “loophole” that some U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) officials perceived in the previous introduction. That introduction stated in part: This consumer safety specification does not apply to products that are blatantly misused, nor does it apply to products used by consumers in a careless manner that violate normal practice or disregard the instructions or warnings provided with the product, or both.

At a product safety symposium sponsored by AHFA in August 2015, industry executives who worked on the original standard said the introduction statement was intended to protect manufacturers from claims resulting from consumer misuse of products that comply with the standard.

But CPSC Commissioner Marietta Robinson told the 2015 symposium attendees that officials from one company had cited the language in the standard’s introduction to argue that the performance requirements in the standard did not apply if a consumer “misused” a product, for example, by not using the supplied tip restraints.

A task group from the ASTM Subcommittee on Furniture Safety was assigned to review the introduction. Despite a legal review that concluded there was no “loophole” in the current language, the task group proposed a revised introduction “to more specifically reflect the proper application of the standard.”

The new language reads (in part): This specification does not address hazards created by blatant misuse of a product including, but not limited to, use of the product in a manner that is neither intended by the manufacturer nor reasonably foreseeable.

The second key update to F2057 is a new consumer warning label and a test method for determining the “permanence” of that label. The primary change to the warning label is the addition of a “hazard symbol.” It includes a pictograph of a child climbing the drawers of a dresser. Over the pictograph is a hazard symbol consisting of a circle with a line through it. (See below.) The circle and line may be in black or red.

A “permanent warning label” attached “in a conspicuous location when (the clothing storage unit is) in use” is among the requirements of the stability standard. Language for the warning label has been modified slightly and is detailed in the standard.

The 2017 update includes the following clarification for the word “permanent”:

A paper label shall be considered permanent if, during an attempt to remove it without the aid of tools or solvents, it cannot be removed, it tears into pieces upon removal, or such action damages the surface to which it is attached. A non-paper label shall be considered permanent if, during an attempt to remove it without the aid of tools or solvents, it cannot be removed or such action damages the surface to which it is attached.

Finally, the standard specifies an adhesion test (ASTM D3359 Test Methods for Rating Adhesion by Tape Test) to be performed on the label. If the warning statement is still legible and attached after the test, it is considered permanent.

ASTM International welcomes and encourages participation in the development and updating of its standards. Among those contributing to the F2057 revisions in addition to Perdue were executives from furniture manufacturers and importers (both AHFA member companies and non-member companies), representatives from consumer safety groups such as the nonprofit organization Kids in Danger, CPSC staff members and even parents who have lost children in tip-over accidents. Information on becoming a member of ASTM is available from Leonard Morrissey, lmorriss@astm.org .

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The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus about 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide. AHFA serves as the industry’s advocate in Washington, D.C., on all legislative and regulatory matters and leads the development of voluntary environmental, product safety and construction standards for home furnishings products.

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