ACCC seeking to reduce toppling furniture dangers

Published

The ACCC is seeking feedback about ways to reduce the dangers posed by toppling furniture, which has killed at least 28 people in Australia since 2000 and causes close to 20 injuries every week.

A consultation paper published today, outlines a range of proposed regulatory options aimed at improving product design and increasing wall-fitted anchoring and consumer education.

“We have considered the available evidence and safety concerns in proposing a range of regulatory options and encourage stakeholders to make their submission before we make a final recommendation to the Government,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“We would like to hear from the furniture industry, including manufacturers, importers and retailers, as well as consumer safety advocates, consumer testing facilities and medical professionals about how to reduce the dangers from heavy furniture items falling on people, especially the young and frail.”

Children under the age of 5 are most at risk of serious harm from toppling furniture, and the most common furniture involved in accidents includes chests of drawers, wardrobes, bookcases, cabinets and entertainment units.

“Toppling furniture accidents are estimated to cause about 900 injuries requiring medical attention every year with a particular impact on young children, but which can also injure the elderly.” Ms Rickard said.

“These accidents can happen very quickly, and the risks increase when there is an uneven distribution of stored items or when children climb on furniture.”

“Parents and carers are reminded to check their home for toppling hazards and to anchor any tall or unstable furniture,” Ms Rickard said.

The consultation paper and information on how to make a submission is available on the ACCC website. Consultation will close on 13 June 2022.

Scoping more effective risk controls to prevent injuries and deaths caused by toppling furniture is a current product safety priority for the ACCC.

Advice for consumers

Look for furniture that comes with safety information and equipment for anchoring it to the walls.

Keep your heaviest items in the bottom drawers or shelves, because furniture that is top heavy is easier to tip over.

Put locking devices on drawers to prevent children opening them and using them as steps.

Do not place heavy items such as TVs or items that are attractive to children on top of furniture.

For additional safety tips for purchasing and using furniture and televisions, visit Product Safety Australia.

Background

The regulatory options apply to freestanding storage furniture including chest of drawers, cabinets, and wardrobes, with a height of over 500mm; bookshelves and bookcases with a height of over 600mm; and entertainment units (all heights).

The ACCC published an issues paper in August 2021 seeking feedback on key issues associated with toppling furniture.

There is no mandatory safety standard or information standard specifically relating to toppling furniture in Australia. A range of voluntary measures have sought to address the safety risks, including a voluntary standard for free-standing furniture published by Standards Australia and a best practice guide developed by industry.