The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has asked the ASTM International Furniture Safety Subcommittee to develop a performance standard to address hazards associated with reclining furniture.
ASTM’s Furniture Safety Subcommittee (F15.42) met in May and agreed to develop the standard. A virtual subcommittee meeting will be held Monday, July 10, from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern time to begin discussion of the new standard. The meeting will be hosted by Subcommittee Chairman Richard Rosati, of Bureau Veritas. Companies interested in joining the ASTM F15.42 Furniture Safety Subcommittee and/or attending the July 10 recliner meeting should contact Molly Lynyak, the ASTM F15.42 staff manager, at email@example.com, for details.
In an April 27 letter to Rosati, the CPSC Office of Hazard Identification and Reduction said the agency is aware of 13 incidents, including seven fatalities, involving children between eight months and five years old. These incidents occurred between 2011 and 2021.
“Prior to the CPSC’s April letter, we were not aware of any injury or fatality incidents involving reclining furniture during that time period,” said Bill Perdue, vice president of regulatory affairs for the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA). In addition to participating in the ASTM standard development process, Perdue said AHFA is convening a new motion furniture task group to review the incidents and consider possible requirements for the standard.
The incidents demonstrate two hazard patterns, according to CPSC. One is entrapment in the foot support lift mechanism from beneath the recliner, which is compounded when the lift is motorized. The second is entrapment in the top of the leg-rest while the furniture is in a reclined position, typically when a child slips between the leg-rest and the seat cushion.
ASTM does not currently publish any standard related to reclining furniture. In 1988, the American Furniture Manufacturers Association (now AHFA) published industry recliner guidelines specifying that openings between the upholstered seat and the leg rest should measure five inches or less. This followed a joint press release from CPSC and AFMA in 1985 alerting parents about “possible accidental death or injury to young children using or playing on recliner chairs.”
At that time, CPSC had investigated or received reports of three deaths and two serious brain injuries to children between the ages of 12 and 20 months. These incidents occurred prior to 1985 and involved children climbing or playing on the leg-rest part of the chair while it was reclined.