CPSC and IKEA Announce a Recall to Prevent Future Injuries and Deaths from Tip-overs of Malm Dresser

In February, a 22-month old from Apple Valley, Minnesota was killed by a falling Malm dresser; In 2014, a 2 year-old from West Chester, PA lost his life to a fatal tipover / Today, after urging from the lawmakers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and IKEA announced a recall of Malm dressers, stopping the sale of Malm dressers until safety improvements are made, and offering a refund for consumers who have purchased Malm dressers

CPSC and IKEA Announce a Recall to Prevent Future Injuries and Deaths from Tip-overs of Malm Dresser

Washington, DC – Following efforts from U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and IKEA today announced a recall to prevent future injuries and deaths from tip-overs of the IKEA Malm dresser. In February, a 22-month old from Apple Valley, Minnesota was killed by a falling Malm dresser; however, his family was unaware of the danger the Malm dresser posed, including two previous deaths from Malm dresser tip-overs. After these two deaths, IKEA and the CPSC announced a repair program to provide owners a free wall anchoring kit but IKEA has stated that it has distributed only 300,000 new wall anchors, which only cover about one percent of the 29 million dressers sold. Today, after urging from the lawmakers, the CPSC and IKEA announced a recall of Malm dressers, stopping the sale of Malm dressers until safety improvements are made, and offering a refund for consumers who have purchased Malm dressers. These are the actions the lawmakers called on the CPSC to take in their letter last month.

“I am thankful that IKEA and the CPSC heard the message of our letter and are taking actions that will make kids across the country safer,” Casey said. “While this is a positive development this battle is by no means over. The facts are clear: far too many children are exposed to unsafe furniture that can easily tip over. What is needed is a strong federal safety standard that can give parents the peace of mind they deserve. We must continue to push for passage of our legislation to put clear, mandatory safety standards in place."

“After a 22-month old from Apple Valley, Minnesota was killed by a falling Malm dresser, we called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission and IKEA to take action to prevent further injuries and deaths,” said Klobuchar. “While today’s announcement won’t bring back the children who tragically lost their lives to tip-overs, it will hopefully prevent future tragedies by taking this dresser off the market and leading to greater public awareness. No family should live in fear that their child could be severely injured or even killed by a preventable tip-over of household furniture.”

“This recall is long overdue and will help prevent tragic tip-over accidents that have already taken the lives of three toddlers. I, along with my colleagues in the Senate, sent letters urging IKEA and the CPSC to stop selling these dressers and provide an appropriate remedy for consumers. I’m glad that our efforts have finally led to meaningful action,” Schakowsky said. “While this recall is an important step forward, we must do more to address the risk of furniture tip-overs. I will continue fighting for legislation that keeps children safe and protects families from future tip-over tragedies.”

Klobuchar, Casey, and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) joined together earlier this month to introduce the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act, a new bill to protect children from tipping furniture. The legislation would direct the CPSC to adopt a stronger, mandatory stability standard for storage units, including chests, bureaus, and dressers, which are a major category of furniture at risk for tipping over. Schakowsky has introduced the companion bill in the House.

Last month, Klobuchar, Schakowsky, Casey wrote a letter to the CPSC urging it to take action to prevent future injuries and deaths from tip-overs of the IKEA Malm dresser. The full text of that letter is below.

Dear Chairman Kaye:

We are writing to urge the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to take strong and definitive action to prevent future injuries and deaths from tip-overs of IKEA’s Malm dresser.

As you are aware, furniture tip-overs are a significant hazard, especially for children. In the United States, a child is killed on average every two weeks by a falling piece of furniture, television, or appliance, and more than 22,000 children are treated for injuries related to instability or tip-overs each year. We appreciate that the CPSC has undertaken a broad “Anchor It!” campaign to educate consumers about tip-over hazards. Still, the CPSC must take additional action to address the known hazard caused by the IKEA Malm dresser.

In July 2015, after two deaths from the Malm dresser tip-overs, the CPSC and IKEA announced a repair program to provide owners a free wall anchoring kit. The announcement advised consumers to immediately stop using dressers not secured to the wall, but it did not require IKEA to stop selling the dressers.

The actions taken by IKEA are clearly insufficient. In February 2016, 22-month-old Theodore “Ted” McGee from Apple Valley, Minnesota, was killed by a falling Malm dresser. The dresser was not secured to the wall, and Ted’s parents were not aware of the danger the dresser posed, the CPSC’s July 2015 announcement, or the repair program. Many other families are still at risk. IKEA states that it has distributed 300,000 new wall anchors, which only covers about one percent of the 27 million dressers sold.

There are also serious questions regarding the compliance of the Malm dresser with the voluntary industry standard, ASTM F2057-14. That standard requires that (1) each individual drawer, when open, can hold a 50-pound weight without tipping; (2) the dresser not tip with all the drawers open; (3) the furniture come with warnings and a strap to attach the furniture to the wall; and (4) the first two requirements be met without the strap attached.

Following the announcement of the repair program for Malm dressers, the Philadelphia Inquirer conducted tip-over tests of the dressers. The dressers they tested reportedly failed to meet even the first requirement of the ASTM standard. The dresser crashed forward as soon as a 50-pound weight was hung on one drawer. The dressers also failed the second requirement, falling over when all the drawers were opened.

Some in the industry argue that furniture that is only designed to be used when anchored to a wall is not covered by ASTM F2057-14. While the standard does include a limited exception intended for built-in furniture that is truly a permanent part of the home, it clearly does not apply to the Malm dresser. If the Malm dresser does indeed fail to meet the voluntary standard, the CPSC should declare them defective.

Malm dressers present an unreasonable risk of harm to children. To definitively address the dangers they pose, we urge the CPSC to (1) conduct a full recall of Malm dressers that specifically uses the term “recall” in notices to consumers, (2) stop the sale of Malm dressers until safety improvements are made, and (3) determine an appropriate remedy for consumers who have purchased Malm dressers that includes offering a full refund. The CPSC should also consider whether similar actions are appropriate for the other types of IKEA dressers.

We look forward to your prompt action to address this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

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