New York —Three years after IKEA recalled millions of dangerous, unstable dressers, parents who lost children to furniture tip-over incidents and national consumer organizations called on IKEA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to take stronger action to get more of the recalled dressers out of homes. The parents – founding members of Parents Against Tip-Overs (PAT) – and advocates from Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Kids In Danger, and Public Citizen also urged Congress to pass the STURDY Act, a bill that would require the CPSC to set stability rules for dressers and other clothing storage furniture so they will not tip-over onto children.
According to the CPSC, a child is sent to the emergency room because of tipping furniture every 30 minutes, and one child dies every ten days. IKEA dressers are linked to at least ten deaths, nine of which are linked to recalled dressers, due to tip-over incidents.
In a letter sent to IKEA by PAT, parents urged IKEA to increase its efforts to better inform consumers about the recall and make it easier for consumers to return the unsafe and recalled dressers that are linked to the deaths of at least nine children. Specifically, PAT called on IKEA to:
- Use its marketing, media, and communications expertise to alert consumers to the dangerous dressers and encourage the company to remove all recalled dressers from people’s homes. This would include outreach to customers and media outlets via numerous methods, as well as directly alerting the members of the brand’s Friends & Family Program and other consumers whose contact information the company has.
- Honor the return of recalled products in any condition or quantity, and provide consumers with full refunds.
- Release the details of recall efforts to date, including the number of dressers that have been removed from homes through the recall.
- Make it easier for consumers to remove recalled dressers from their homes and to obtain refunds for recalled dressers using IKEA’s website.
In July of 2015, the CPSC and IKEA announced an education campaign and repair program encouraging consumers to anchor their furniture after two deaths associated with IKEA’s MALM dressers were publicized. Unfortunately, the education campaign failed to prevent additional deaths tied to IKEA dressers, and in June 2016, after another death was reported, IKEA and the CPSC announced a recall of millions of MALM dressers and other, similar IKEA furniture. After an eighth child tip-over death linked to the product was publicized, the recall was re-announced in 2017. There are now at least ten known child deaths associated with IKEA dressers.
While it has been difficult to obtain clear information about the effectiveness of the IKEA dresser recall at removing dangerous dressers from consumers’ homes, the information available indicates that IKEA has received only a tiny fraction of the recalled products back.
“If IKEAhad taken action and recalled these dressers after the first reported incident, and industry had worked on a mandatory standard that takes into account real world use by a child with dynamic testing, my son would still be here,” stated Crystal Ellis, whose son, Camden, died when a dresser tipped over on him. Crystal is a founding member of Parents Against Tip-Overs.
“Had the CPSC used all the tools at their disposal to ensure that deadly products are effectively removed from the marketplace and demanded the development of a stronger mandatory standard that takes into consideration real world situations, Conner would still be here today,” stated Meghan DeLong, Founder and President, Conner’s Legacy Foundation, Inc. and founding member of Parents Against Tip-Overs.
“Children are being killed and injured in furniture tip-over incidents involving unstable dressers that never should have been on the market to begin with,” stated Meagen Bohne, Associate Director, Campaigns at Consumer Reports. “When unsafe products are recalled, companies, such as IKEA, must do everything in their power to alert consumers of the hazards and get these products out of homes before more tip-over incidents occur. Companies need to be proactive, transparent and thorough in their recall efforts – and we must have government enforcement to hold them accountable.”
“Big business is often more interested in profit than safety. But as the nation’s chief product safety regulatory, the CPSC has a responsibility to place the safety of families above all other considerations,” stated Remington Gregg, Counsel for Civil Justice and Consumer Rights at Public Citizen. “Sadly, the CPSC’s oversight of IKEA’s recall has been nonexistent. The CPSC can and should do more to protect our families from injury or death.”
“Announcing the recall is just the beginning. IKEA, with complicity from CPSC, has dropped the ball on protecting consumers,” stated Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger (KID). “We call on both the company and CPSC to up their game. IKEA should use the same multifaceted efforts they use to sell products to retrieve their unstable dressers from homes. CPSC needs to be a strong advocate for consumers, not a rubber stamp for this company’s weak actions.”
In addition to urging IKEA and the CPSC to do more to get recalled dressers out of homes, the parents and consumer groups urge Congress to pass the Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act, or STURDY Act. The STURDY Act would require the CPSC to create a mandatory rule for free-standing clothing storage units to help protect children from tip-over incidents. Unlike the furniture industry’s current weak voluntary standard, the bill requires the CPSC to fully address the hazards posed. The bill was introduced by Representative Schakowsky in April.
“As a parent, I am here to ask the CPSC and Congress to do more to get dangerous products out of our homes and to keep our children safe. Industry should not be in charge of deciding what is safe,” stated Keisha Bowles, mother of Chance who passed away when she was 2 years old after a dresser tipped over on her. Ms. Bowles is a founding member of Parents Against Tip-Overs.
“The ineffectiveness of the IKEA recall and the large numbers of dangerous dressers still in consumers’ homes exemplifies why the STURDY Act is so important. We need a strong mandatory rule to ensure the stability of our furniture to prevent tragedies,” stated Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel of Consumer Federation of America. “The STURDY Act will save lives.”
The organizations also released a data sheet outlining the timeline of events leading up to and after the June 2016 IKEA recall, facts and figures about the effectiveness of the recall, and results from online questionnaires about consumers’ experiences participating in the recall as well as near-miss tip-overs.
Rachel Weintraub, CFA, 202-939-1012
Nancy Cowles, KID, 312-595-0649
David Butler, CR, 202-719-5916
Crystal Ellis, PAT, 206-372-9602
Angela Bradbury, PC, 202-588-7741