Regulatory Compliance

Furniture Stability

For two decades the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) has supported efforts to improve furniture stability and has worked to educate its members as well as the broader residential furniture industry about efforts to improve furniture stability.

According to data reported annually by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 100 children died from 2000 to 2021 when clothing storage furniture fell over on them. Another 170 died during the same period when furniture plus a TV on the furniture fell at the same time.

Although the number of incidents, particularly those involving TVs, has declined in recent years, the numbers point to too many furniture-related tragedies – at least a dozen each year – with most involving children under 5 years old.

AHFA’s advocacy on this issue is focused on leveling the playing field so all manufacturers are held to the same standard of safety, while also ensuring that compliant products remain accessible to all consumers.

The ASTM Voluntary Standard for Clothing Storage Furniture

A voluntary standard for clothing storage furniture stability was first adopted by ASTM International in 2000. AHFA participated in development of the standard and has served on the ASTM Furniture Safety Subcommittee ever since. The subcommittee, which includes manufacturers, parents, consumer advocates and regulators, constantly reviews new data, product trends and consumer trends and has updated the voluntary furniture stability standard five times since 2000.

In 2016, the CPSC recalled 29 million non-compliant chests and dressers from a single company. After this recall, the CPSC and parent groups began pushing for a tougher voluntary standard.  However, data available at the time indicated all child fatalities involved non-compliant CSUs.

AHFA maintained that if fatalities only involved non-compliant units, the problem was with enforcement of the voluntary standard, not with the standard itself. A tougher voluntary standard would indeed make the safest units even safer, but it would completely ignore the problem of companies opting to ignore the standard altogether. AHFA said it was time to level the playing field and make the existing voluntary standard mandatory, thereby giving CPSC the leverage it needed for enforcement.

The STURDY Act & the CPSC’s Rulemaking

While continuing to push for more rigorous testing within the voluntary standard, parents and consumer advocates also backed two separate initiatives for a mandatory standard that emerged around this same time. The first was legislation known as “STURDY” – the Stop Tip-overs of Risky, Unstable Dressers on Youth Act. It was first introduced in 2016, finally passed the House in 2019, but failed to advance in the Senate until 2022.

AHFA initially opposed STURDY because the early versions allowed CPSC to use a special “fast-track” rulemaking that gave other stakeholders – including AHFA and other industry representatives – little opportunity for input.

Meanwhile, in 2017 CPSC issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This second approach to a mandatory standard ensured AHFA would have the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed rule, and CPSC would be required to respond to those comments. Further, CPSC would be required to conduct a detailed cost/benefit analysis before adopting the safety standard.

CPSC unveiled the details of its proposed rulemaking in July 2021. The agency had kept the data and technical research behind its rule under wraps for nearly four years. Working as quickly as possible to analyze the 1,100+ pages of background and findings, AHFA soon raised serious questions about the CPSC’s rule, especially pertaining to the novel performance test methods it proposed.

Specifically, AHFA questioned whether the rule could be effectively enforced due to the complexity of the performance standard outlined. Members of the Alliance tested hundreds of products in all styles and price points and could find none that met the minimum stability rating required in the rule, despite being compliant with the applicable voluntary standard. Further, the more units that were tested, the more variability engineers discovered in the test methods. Finally, as companies contemplated what might be required to redesign products to meet the minimum stability rating, they noted significant oversights in the CPSC’s cost/benefit analysis. In the end, AHFA concluded the CPSC rule would have the unintended consequence of making safer CSUs cost-prohibitive for families that need them most. 

Despite receiving hundreds of pages of concerns, questions and objections from a variety of stakeholders, including AHFA, the agency made only minor modifications to the final rule and approved it in October 2022.  It takes effect May 25, 2023.

How STURDY, the NPR & F2057 Intersect

In April 2021, before the CPSC rule was released, AHFA began working to find another pathway forward for a mandatory stability standard. A team of furniture engineers mostly from AHFA member companies met at a UL Solutions lab to develop a series of performance tests to meet the criteria outlined in STURDY.

After refining the test methods, AHFA presented them to the full ASTM F15.42 Furniture Safety Subcommittee in November 2021, reviewed them with Parents Against Tip-overs in early December and presented them directly to CPSC in mid-December. With all stakeholders in agreement that the proposed new tests met the performance requirements in STURDY, AHFA forwarded a three-step plan:

  • Revise ASTM F2057 to incorporate the new stability tests.
  • Amend the STURDY Act to require CPSC to adopt the revised voluntary standard, as long as it was found to meet the requirements in the legislation.
  • Get the STURDY Act passed and signed into law.

By May 2022, the plan was gaining momentum. The amended STURDY Act – backed by AHFA, Parents Against Tip-overs and other stakeholders – cleared the Senate Commerce Committee and, finally, after six years, advanced to the full Senate. It passed by unanimous consent at the end of September but the amended version went back to the House.

By the end of 2022, with the CPSC rule already published, efforts to advance the STURDY Act were intense. If it failed to pass by the end of 2022, there was little chance it would be revived in the new Congress.

With time running out, AHFA took legal action against the CPSC rule in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. AHFA’s motion calling for a judicial review of the rule was followed by a petition to delay implementation of the rule’s effective date until the requested review could be completed.

Remarkably, the STURDY Act passed Congress as part of the 2023 omnibus spending bill and was signed by President Biden on December 29.

But AHFA’s petition to delay the CPSC rule’s effective date was denied – leaving the industry with conflicting timelines.

As the calendar turned to January 2023, manufacturers had just five months until the mandatory CPSC safety standard would take effect. AHFA continues advising its members to work with product designers and engineers as well as overseas factories to implement the necessary changes for compliance.

But they are doing so knowing that STURDY gives CPSC until the end of 2023 to promulgate a new rule that will supersede the existing one. If CPSC adopts the revised F2057 as the new rule, some of the product modifications and all of the labeling requirements of the CPSC rule will have been wasted efforts.

To avoid this senseless exercise – which has created chaos and confusion in the marketplace for bedroom storage furniture – AHFA appealed to the agency to complete its review of F2057 swiftly and to delay implementation of its existing rule. Instead, at the end of January, the agency stated it intended to enforce the rule beginning May 25.

As for the review of F2057-23, the agency has not yet revealed whether it has begun the review nor when it anticipates completing it. STURDY ultimately gives CPSC the authority to decide the final rule, so manufacturers and importers are left with no choice but to continue implementing costly product and labeling modifications that may be short-lived.

This has led to a groundswell of support for F2057-23. At the January Las Vegas Market, Ashley Furniture launched a letter campaign to members of Congress that AHFA then extended to all manufacturers a few days later.  More than 80,000 letters from all segments of the industry were sent. Then came joint letters from all stakeholders to the agency, as well as a letter from key members of Congress urging the CPSC commissioners to follow the intent of STURDY and swiftly move to adopt F2057-23.

AHFA’s advocacy on this issue has been focused on leveling the playing field so that all manufacturers are held to the same standard of safety, while also ensuring that compliant products remain accessible to all consumers.

Additional furniture stability resources are provided below.




Product Instability or Tip-Over Injuries and Fatalities Associated with Televisions, Furniture and Appliances
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
2020 Report

Understanding CPSC Data on Clothes Storage Unit (CSU) Tip-Overs Involving Children
Adam Suchy, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
October 24, 2018

Product Instability or Tip-Over Injuries and Fatalities Associated with Televisions, Furniture and Appliances
October 2018

Advanced Notice of Rulemaking Regarding Clothing Storage Unit Tip Overs
November 21, 2017

In-Depth Analysis of Nonfatal Injuries from TVs Falling Off Furniture
March 2017



Help For Consumers:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched an “Anchor It!” campaign to educate parents and child caregivers about simple steps they can take to help prevent possible television and furniture tip-over accidents.