The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (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.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said that 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”, 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”, she added.
The consultation paper and information on how to make a submission is available on the ACCC website. Consultation will close on 13 June 2022.
There is currently 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.
In the meantime, the ACCC advises that consumers might:
– Look for furniture that comes with safety information and equipment for anchoring it to the walls;
– Keep 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;
– Avoid placing 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.