The Australian Furniture Association is continuing to push for stronger legislation since the announcement of IKEA’s alert re toppling furniture and subsequent child deaths.
This issue is not exclusive to the IKEA incident, and the AFA is aware of a number of similar tragic incidents in recent years and are working closely with a number of compliance organisations to further develop additional mechanisms to help protect consumers.
‘The need to educate suppliers and consumers alike is high on our agenda,’ says AFA CEO, Patrizia Torelli. ‘Every time we hear of the death or injury of another person, particularly in the case of children, the impact is felt across the entire community. Our industry is constantly working to improve in order to mitigate these risks and help educate the wider community on simple ways to possibly avert these tragedies.’
Injuries and deaths
* At least 14 children under nine years old died in Australia during 2000-2015 after domestic furniture fell on them. This is around one death per year.
(Source: National Coronial Information System)
* The Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU), Monash University recorded 909 emergency department visits in Victoria during January 2006 - June 2014 for injuries related to furniture tip-overs.
Of these injuries:
* half were to children four years old and under
* 80% of incidents occurred in the home.
* The Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit (QISU), Mater Health Service identified 1,032 cases during 1999-2013 where a child under 5 years old was injured by furniture or appliances tipping over.
Of these cases:
* the three most common furniture items were chairs, chest of drawers/tallboys and tables/benches/desks
* the most common electrical appliance by far was the television
* the three most commonly identified places the injuries happened were living/dining areas, bedrooms and family/rumpus rooms.
Small children tend to climb on furniture such as freestanding bookcases, drawers, wardrobes and sideboards, and if the furniture is unsecured the child’s weight can cause it to topple.
Falling furniture can not only strike a child but can trap and crush them underneath, causing the child to suffocate.
‘We strongly encourage consumers to check out the ACCC’s Safety tips and watch the safety video 'Anchor it and Protect a Child',’ says Ms Torelli. ‘Every life is valuable and the more information that is available to help avoid the pain and suffering of another Australian family is absolutely imperative.’
Top Tips to Buy safe
* Purchase low-set furniture or furniture with sturdy, stable and broad bases.
* Look for furniture that comes with safety information or equipment for anchoring it to the walls.
* Test the furniture in the shop – make sure it is stable. For example, pull out top drawers of a chest of drawers and apply a little pressure to see how stable it is; make sure the drawers do not fall out easily.
Top Tips to Use safe
* Attach, mount, bolt or otherwise secure furniture to walls and floors.
* Do not put heavy items on top shelves of bookcases.
* Place televisions at the back of cabinets or secure them to the wall.
* Discourage small children from climbing on furniture.
* Do not put tempting items such as favourite toys on top of furniture that encourage children to climb up and reach.
* Do not place unstable furniture near where children play.
* Put locking devices on all drawers to prevent children opening them and using them as steps.
The AFA recommends consumers look for the AFA approved Warning Labels when making their purchases.
For enquiries relating to this and other compliance matters, consumers and suppliers can contact Craig Cock, Quality Assurance and Compliance at the AFA on +9856 1600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on AFRDI Testing and certification (AS/NZS 4935;2009) http://www.furntech.org.au/