Regulation

Democrats Demand Bureaucrats Regulate Bureaus More Heavily

The STURDY Act would mandate new testing standards to prevent dressers from killing people.

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Are you sitting down? Well, maybe you shouldn't be, given the risks posed by America's stock of dangerously unregulated furniture. A new bill in Congress aims to prevent deaths from tipped-over dressers.

"The furniture industry has been allowed to self-regulate for too long—and with tragic consequences, as a child is injured by tipped furniture every 17 minutes," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.) in a press release promoting the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act. "As kids spend more time at home due to the pandemic, unanchored or top-heavy furniture poses a greater than ever risk."

Sens. Blumenthal, Bob Casey (D–Penn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) introduced the STURDY Act last Thursday. The legislation would require the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to develop more rigorous standards for dressers and other free-standing "clothing storage units" to prevent them from tipping over.

Deaths from falling furniture have attracted increased attention recently. According to the CPSC, which has released a series of reports on these incidents, 571 people, including 451 children, have died in the last 20 years from accidents involving unstable TVs, furniture, and appliances.

Most of these fatalities involved either falling TVs or falling furniture. Incidents involving only a tipped-over dresser or bureau, the subject of the STURDY Act, have produced 115 deaths in two decades.

"The nation's furniture tip-over epidemic is particularly insidious because the danger is all around us, inside our homes—unless parents, grandparents, and other caregivers use special kits to strap or anchor furniture to wall," wrote Consumer Reports in its 2018 investigation of the topic.

In that investigation, Consumer Reports conducted tip-over tests on 17 commercially available dressers. They found that nine of these dressers could fall over when a 50-pound weight was hung from the open top drawer. Only five dressers managed to withstand a 60-pound weight being hung from an open top drawer. (The idea was to simulate a child pulling on the front of a dresser.)

Blumenthal's bill would require dressers and other "clothing storage units" to undergo similar simulations of a 60-pound child pulling on the dresser, as well as other real-world uses that could result in tip-over. It would also require new warning requirements to inform consumers of the danger of these collapsing cabinets.

The STURDY Act was first introduced in 2019. It passed the House but never made it through the Senate.

That same year ASTM International, an organization that develops voluntary technical standards for testing materials and products, revised its dresser stability standard to cover clothing storage units as short as 27 inches. The old standards covered only dressers that were 30 inches or taller.

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) has raised a number of issues with the STURDY Act, saying the vague language in the bill would give furniture makers and sellers no clear guidance on how to comply with the new rules. The group also suggested several amendments to the bill, including a proposal that its requirements be limited to products intended for children.

Every preventable death is a tragedy, particularly when the victim is a child. It is nevertheless worth noting that approximately five of the 50 million children in the U.S. under the age of 12 die each year from falling furniture, according to a 2020 CPSC report.

The costs of the new regulations would meanwhile be borne by millions of consumers, including those who don't have children. Four of the five dressers that withstood Consumer Reports' 60-pound test cost more than $500. All dressers that cost less than $100 failed the 60-pound test.

A $150, 30-inch-tall dresser from IKEA did pass the 60-pound test, prompting Consumer Reports to say this proves that "a stable, affordable dresser at this height is possible." But if such a dresser already exists on the marketplace, regulations mandating it into existence are unnecessary. The primary effect of stricter rules would be to eliminate the cheapest products. Would safety be ill-served by allowing childless adults on a budget to continue to purchase those?

Parents concerned about rickety dressers also have the option of securing furniture to the walls with straps and furniture anchors. Since 2015, the CPSC has run an "Anchor It!" educational campaign to encourage parents to do just that. Given the rarity of deaths from wobbly wardrobes and the existence of safe, affordable alternatives, it would be wise for legislators to shelf their STURDY Act proposal.

NEXT: How Congress Could Send Bigger Stimulus Checks, Fund School Reopening, and Save $1 Trillion

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  1. “The furniture industry has been allowed to self-regulate for too long—and with tragic consequences, as a child is injured by tipped furniture every 17 minutes,”

    Oh Jesus, I haven’t heard an argument framed that ways since the 90s.

    1. Lucky you — that kind of framing is used on the Internet at least once every 13 minutes, although 87.6% of statistical claims are made up on the spot.

      1. I blame global warmcooling.

        1. Racist!

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    3. “And we’re here to interview that child. Billy, why do you climb on furniture every 17 minutes?”

  2. Maybe they should require a building permit to install or move furniture.

    1. Union labor only for the install.

    2. That might not be a bad idea. The next time someone I live with says, “Let’s rearrange the living room,” I can say, “Okay, right after you do all the paperwork.”

  3. This sounds like an onion article.

    1. They all do.

  4. We need common sense furniture control. Nobody needs more than 3 drawers.

    1. I never go through women’s drawers without their explicit consent.

      1. Unless there is a (D) next to your name

      2. I never go through women’s drawers without their Andrew Cuomo’s explicit consent.

        Fixed.

  5. Form of argument:
    Something must be done.
    This is something.
    Therefore this must be done.
    Think of the children.

    Dear Sen. Richard Blumenthal:

    Smacking you upside the head with a 2X4 is something….

  6. “As kids spend more time at home due to the pandemic, unanchored or top-heavy furniture poses a greater than ever risk.”

    Actually, the risk stays the same. Exposure to the risk increases due to the pandemic government overreach.

  7. Just lock all the kids in unfurnished cages for their own good.

    1. Only a Trumptard would suggest that.

      *Civilized* people put them in ‘migrant facilities for children’.

  8. “The nation’s furniture tip-over epidemic…”

    Definition of epidemic:

    1: affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time
    typhoid was epidemic
    2a: excessively prevalent
    b: CONTAGIOUS sense 4
    epidemic laughter
    3: characterized by very widespread growth or extent : of, relating to, or constituting an epidemic
    the practice had reached epidemic proportions

    “571 people, including 451 children, have died in the last 20 years from accidents involving unstable TVs, furniture, and appliances.”

    That is 28.6 per year; 2.4 per month, .08 per day. Does not seem like much of an “epidemic” to me, that is if actual definitions matter.

    1. In the context of USA population that’s – 1-in-600,000 over 20-years.

    2. They don’t matter for COVID, why should they matter here.

  9. Dressers and wardrobes and armoires and the like have featured either wall or floor anchored anti-tip systems for at least the past 15 years. Appliances too – my new (gas! – still allowed!) stove / range came with at least two different options. I imagine that other large appliances like fridges and laundry machines do as well, but haven’t had to install one in a while.

    They are almost never installed in a residential application. It makes it a pain to move for maintenance or cleaning. What is going to make people install them now? Who is going to ensure that they are installed properly? Are we going to need permits and inspections? What if I want to re-arrange my bedroom? Do I fill out paperwork with the municipality, county, or the feds?

    1. Appliances too – my new (gas! – still allowed!) stove / range came with at least two different options. I imagine that other large appliances like fridges and laundry machines do as well, but haven’t had to install one in a while.

      I’ve installed a handfull of the above appliances (combined) in the past 5 or so years. I haven’t seen an anchoring system on a single one. Of course, for decades, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and the like put their compressors and motors in the bottom making them tip-resistant intrinsically. If your kids are tipping over the refrigerator, they should really get a place of their own.

        1. Oh, I’ve seen them for dressers, TVs, and even tool chests. Just, as I said, not for things that are as wide as they are tall and have 95% of their mass sitting almost directly on the floor by design.

      1. A new Samsung gas stove from about a year ago came with a kit to tie down the rear to the wall. Took me a minute to figure out it’s meant to prevent kids opening the door and climbing up on it to reach something higher.

        What I don’t understand is how furniture makers can possibly comply other than providing 500 pound weights for the base, or floor prongs sticking out the front.

        1. Mine was also a Samsung.

          But my dresser is at least 14 years old and it came with something similar.

        2. Do what Ikea does: When they sell you anything like a dresser or ‘tall-ish’ piece of furniture, you sign a piece of paper that promises you’ll install the anti-tip bracket when you assemble it and put it in place. That indemnifies them against lawsuits.

      2. Yet another use for zip ties: (just don’t carry them around the Capitol)

        https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B07X6CQC7V/reasonmagazinea-20/

        1. Odds are AOC was also almost killed by furniture.

          1. Ikea literally tried to have her murdered.

        2. See…. Maybe that one guy just wanted to STURDY ACT Pelosi’s bookcase.

      3. Exactly, with the compressor/motor on the bottom in the back they are unlikely to tip over. The only appliance I ever put an anchor on was the range, because children don’t think much before doing and all it got was a floor cleat that one of the rear feet slides into. Maybe $5 at the time which is probably double in today dollars.

        For tall furniture when I was in earthquake prone Cali I just used an N19 staple into a stud and a slightly shorter one into the top and connected the two with a zip tie. That cost all of two bits, maybe. Soon it will be $500 with gov’t mandate, certification, inspector signoff, etc.

        1. I believe that by law water heaters are now supposed to be anchored. I got my first new water heater in… 25 years? Anyhoo, the guy who installed it anchored it with a long strap.

          Because every 17 minutes, a child was injured by a tipping water heater.

          1. IIRC the UPC requires strapping in regions 3 & 4 which is basically western states and a small region around St. Louis. Of course each state may require it in their code regardless of region.

          2. The guy who installed my new water heater just set it up on its pedestal.

            That guy was me.

      4. Basically, any stove with an oven door is a tipping risk. If the kid climbs on the door, the spaghetti pot can get dumped (ouch!). My new stove came with some steel brackets to anchor the back legs to the floor.

    2. A new law, of course.

      Like fences for pools – you can’t sell your house until your pool is fenced in.

  10. Ok, so I at one time I had

    1. A three year old daughter [she is a self supporting, accomplished, and delightful adult now, thank you]
    2. A corner cupboard

    While we lived in an apartment before purchasing our first house, we used to corner cupboard to store her children’s books.

    One day I heard a panicked “DADDY!” and rushed to my daughters room to find her standing on the shelf of it as it tittered on the balance, of remaining upright or falling over, glass doors shattering on my beautiful little girl.

    I cursed my stupidity and carlessness, and then promptly anchored to the wall. Problem solved. It never occurred to me to write my congressman about it.

    1. Haven’t gotten the angry tyrannical-monster feel for pointing Gov-Guns at ‘other’ people yet eh?

      1. “…angry tyrannical-monster feel for pointing Gov-Guns at ‘other’ people”

        No, but we are approaching the point of a divided nation; and if that is what it takes in order to actually enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then so be it.

  11. 28.55 people, out of a nation of 328.2 million, die per year from falling furniture, and that’s an “insidious epidemic?” That’s 0.0000087% of the population.

    By comparison, 49 Americans die every year from lightning strikes. Clearly we have allowed lightning to self-regulate for far too long!

    1. We need common sense lightning control laws!

    2. To be fair, the panicmonger in the article said injured.

      If every 17 minutes a child is injured by falling furniture, that’s… ~30,900 kids injured a year from dressers. WE HAVE TO DO BETTER!

      1. It depends on how you define injured. Probably most of the cases are panicky parents rushing to the emergency room to have a doctor look at minor bruises and send the kid home – for a $3,000 fee!

  12. I blame CS Lewis.

  13. Ikea furniture comes with wall anchors.

    Are they insisting that I now buy furniture that’s too heavy for a 50 lbs weight to tip over?

    What’s the carbon footprint of shipping all that extra weight?

    1. What’s the carbon footprint of shipping all that extra weight?

      A sea level rise of even just 2 inches has the potential to kill 50 million babies every year.

  14. >Incidents involving only a tipped-over dresser or bureau, the subject of the STURDY Act, have produced 115 deaths in two decades.

    This needs to be emphasized. The subject of the legislation is *5 deaths* per year.

  15. When my now 7 yr. old was 3, he tipped a piano bench onto his toe.
    After looking at the x-rays, the doctor said he’d probably lose the toenail and that he should refrain from running on it and any kicking activities for the next month. Being the mature, responsible father I am, I felt compelled to ask the most important question, “Will he be able to play the piano?”

    1. If you can provide a tiny piano I can whip out a miniature pianist.

  16. > as a child is injured by tipped furniture every 17 minutes

    > Incidents involving only a tipped-over dresser or bureau… have produced 115 deaths in two decades.

    Okay, one is injuries and the other deaths. Still, it’s a huge disconnect. Where is the evidence that a child is injured every 17 minutes? Was that just pulled out prune face’s ass?

    Yes, such injuries, and deaths, happen. And it’s not laughing matter. But that’s why private firms like Underwriters Laboratories and Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval exist. The former is so trusted that it’s nearly impossible to find an appliance without the UL label on it. I’ve worked on a project evaluated by UL and they’re damned thorough. The solution is not Prune Face (wasn’t he a Batman villain) but parents voluntarily choosing Good Housekeeping approved furniture. Pretty soon stores stop stocking non-GH furniture and the problem goes away.

    Contrary to Democrat Party myths, businesses do NOT make a profit by killing off the toddlers of their clients!

    So, only two deaths a month for the past two decades. Not perfect, but hardly cause for a Democrat witch hunt. Surely there are other means at their disposal than a new Furniture Czar. Hell, I bet more toddlers die of strawberries than that. Okay, I was joking but I just looked it up. A child chokes to death at THREE TIMES THE RATE of furniture tipping.

    1. Prune Face (wasn’t he a Batman villain)

      That’s Dick Tracy, Zoomer.

    2. My maths is wrong. I blame my libruhl ahrts edumacation. Only about half a death a month, or around 5 per year.

    3. “as a child is injured by tipped furniture every 17 minutes…”

      I could see there being a lot of injuries from kids playing (standing) on chairs. Of course, it’s very different than a piece of furniture falling on top of a kid, but these injuries can still be accurately described as “injured by tipped furniture.”

  17. I would be curious what the numbers look over the last decade. 20 years ago most TV’s were large heavy tube TV’s and a lot of those heavy TV’s were stored in Amour. With flat screen mounted on the wall in most homes I got think there is less child smushing.

    1. My anecdotal experience is the opposite. Of course, kids were still smushed by TVs back then but a 40 lb. cube is naturally more tip-resistant than a 30 lb. sheet stood on its edge. I know I’ve seen far more flat TVs fall off the wall or tip off a dresser than I’ve seen tube TVs pulled off a credenza or entertainment center.

      1. Old TVs were much heavier than 40# (ever have to lug a large tube TV to the dump/recycling center?). And not only were the tube TVs heavy, but they were much heavier in the front (most of the weight was in the tube), so they weren’t particularly stable. Lightweight flat-screens are really unlikely to kill anybody.

    2. Its actually the opposite now.

      With flat screens mostly sitting on a table they’re really easy to pull over. And the ones that are mounted to a wall, well that mount ain’t gonna support a house-ape hanging off the TV.

  18. Let Darwin work.

  19. Can we not take responsibility for ourselves? As several people have noted, anchoring furniture is not hard to do, and systems for doing so are readily available.

    Congress is basically demanding to legislate against the laws of physics here. They’re modeling a child dead-hanging off the open top drawer of a dresser, already hard enough to design for with a vertical piece of furniture. But even if we imagine something close to that ridiculous situation… children don’t dead hang. They move. Which will ultimately make tipping even more likely, and won’t be accounted for in their regulations. And that’s assuming this is even close to the right model for how furniture deaths tend to happen. So even granting their ridiculous presumptions, how many of those 115 child furniture deaths in 20 years would actually be prevented by regulation?

    451 child deaths in 20 years. Most of which are from TVs. The cost-benefit analysis to regulating furniture seems suspect. Oh wait: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXWhbUUE4ko

    … Nothing surprising here, I guess.

    1. They’ll just need more and better regulation!

  20. Let’s be honest, it’s not about protecting children this is just to punish parents or anyone who [stern condescending voice] dares to defy the law [/stern condescending voice]. Just another adder charge to pile on when Child Services comes around to take the kids after an injury.

  21. “…as a child is injured by tipped furniture every 17 minutes,”…”

    If you wonder why that number stinks, it’s a result of being pulled out of someone’s ass earlier today.

  22. If you anchor all the furniture to the walls, then kids are going to forced to learn about physics on the streets and who knows what they’re going to be taught? Isn’t it safer for kids to learn this sort of stuff in the home from their parents? Won’t somebody think of the children?

  23. “As kids spend more time at home due to the pandemic, unanchored or top-heavy furniture poses a greater than ever risk.”

    *NOW* CAN WE BAN SWIMMING POOLS?!

  24. Screw an ell bracket to the top of the dresser and to a stud on the wall. Problem solved. No stolen valor legislator required.

    1. As I did [per my comment above]; never entered my mind that a tipsy piece of furniture could be a government problem.

      And yet the march continues, to make the entire world idiot proof.

  25. in a press release promoting the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act

    We have now jumped the shark with the whole catchy acronyms thing. Proposing laws – serious laws – for the sole purpose of attaching a property right to the bureaucratization of an acronym.

    We need something that will mercilessly mock these clowns when they try this; immediately flood the market with alternative legislative acronyms, and propose useless silly legislation that will preemptively capture the acronym property rights for every word in the English language. Preferably staffed by people who really understand humor as a weapon.

    1. I’m so glad someone commented about the stupid acronym.

  26. I thought it was government bureaus. I wouldn’t mind that so much.

  27. Democrats Demand, “More Communism, More Socialism, More Tyranny!”
    …continuing on their quest to “Fundamentally Change” the USA into a Nazi Regime.

  28. At 60 pounds you’ve got to almost 6 years old. If you haven’t been beaten out of hanging on furniture by then, the dresser ain’t the problem.

  29. How is the dresser loaded for this 60-pound test? Full bottom drawers do quite a lot to stabilize one, but to pass it when empty requires a very heavy dresser. If two typical middle-age Americans can carry the dresser up a stairs, it is going to fail without an anchor.

  30. undergo similar simulations of a 60-pound child pulling on the dresser,

    Good grief.. I spent the afternoon working wiht a NINE year old boy who weighs in at 65 pounds, repairing some bicycles for his siblings. HE is smart enough to BUILD a dresser from raw lumber, And these guys think he’s stupid enough to tip over a dresser? What, do they think we have a nation of imbeciles for children?

    In order to keep the imbeciles in Congress out of MY bedroom I have taken a vote of my personal household. We have unanimouls agreed to ONLY acquire used furniture that was built/sold prior to these busybodies pontificating about what furniture we ,ay/mayn’t possess in our own homes.
    Maybe these congresscritters have kids that stupid.. the death count of about five per year over the last two decades could easily be accounted for by their own children. Must be too busy stiking their noses in our skivvies to raise their own offspring to be intelligent beings.

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