The largest furniture seller in the world, Swedish company IKEA, has announced it is recalling 29 million dressers and chests in the United States. The recall comes in response to six toddlers being crushed to death when the IKEA dressers they were climbing on tipped over on top of them, and raises the question of how much of a risk furniture tipping is as a whole.
Consumer protection groups have been worried about these dressers for years, because of the danger they pose when they are not securely fastened to the wall.
However, Lars Petersson, the president and chief executive of Ikea USA, told the New York Times that anchoring the furniture to the wall is “an integral part of the assembly instructions”, and no deaths have been linked to chests and dressers that were properly secured.
How Common are Furniture Tipping Injuries?
Although it may seem unlikely, furniture that tips over and injures people accounts for 38,000 injuries annually. Even scarier, from 2000 to 2013, there were 430 deaths reported as a result of furniture tip overs, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
However, the worst part about furniture tipping injuries is the number of children affected, which the IKEA recall puts on full display. The CPSC estimates 9,800 of the annual injuries related to furniture tipping happen to children nine and younger, with nearly 4,000 being under the age of three.
Nevertheless, there is a voluntary safety standard agreed to by many in the furniture industry, designed to prevent death and injury from furniture tipping. The standard requires that furniture be tested to ensure that it can remain upright when a drawer is open and up to 50 pounds of weight is applied. Most of the children injured by furniture tip overs are three or under, and likely do not weigh more than 50 pounds, suggesting that IKEA was not in compliance with the voluntary standard.
How Big is the Recall?
In order to prevent continued harm to children, IKEA agreed to recall eight million of its popular MALM line of dressers and chests that were sold from 2002 through June 2016, as well as 21 million additional children’s- and adult-sized chests and dressers. The recall also included 6.6 million chests and dressers in Canada.
The recall comes after a move by IKEA last summer to offer free wall anchoring kits for its furniture. However, that did little to solve the problem, because many people are unaware of how important it is to secure their furniture.
As part of the recall, IKEA has agreed to pick up the potentially dangerous pieces of furniture and issue a full refund. Alternatively, owners of the recalled furniture can choose to have someone from IKEA secure the furniture to the wall free of charge.
“If you have or think you have one of these products, act immediately,” Kaye said in the statement. “It is simply too dangerous to have the recalled furniture in your home unanchored, especially if you have young children.”