In recent times the headlines have read ‘IKEA Re-announces Recall of MALM and Other Models of Chests and Dressers Due to Serious Tip-over Hazard; 8th Child Fatality Reported; Consumers Urged to Choose Between Refund or Repair. These headlines have been related to US sales of the product. BUT what about Australian families affected by this product?

IKEA has advised customers to ‘immediately stop using any recalled chest or dresser that is not properly anchored to the wall and place it in an area that children cannot access.’ In the US alone IKEA has received 186 reports of tip-over incidents involving the MALM chests and dressers, including 91 reports of injuries to children. In addition, again in the US alone, IKEA had received 113 reports of tip-overs with other recalled IKEA chests and dressers, including 53 reports of injuries to children.

There had been eight reports of child tip-over related deaths with the recalled chests and dressers. 
• The most recent reported death involved a 2-year-old boy after he became trapped beneath an unanchored MALM 3-drawer chest that tipped over. 
Previously reported deaths with MALM dressers or chests include: 
•  A 22-month-old boy died after an unanchored MALM 6-drawer chest fell on top of him. 
•  A 23-month-old boy died after he became trapped beneath an unanchored MALM 3-drawer chest that tipped over. 
•  A 2-year-old boy died after an unanchored MALM 6-drawer chest tipped over fatally pinning him to his bed. 
•  A 2-year-old boy died after an unanchored MALM 3-drawer chest tipped over and trapped him between the dresser drawers. 
Previously reported deaths with other model IKEA chests and dressers include: 
• A 20-month-old girl died after an unanchored GUTE 4-drawer chest tipped over and pinned her against the footboard of a youth bed. 
• A 2½-year-old boy died after an unanchored RAKKE 5-drawer chest tipped over and fatally pinned him to the floor. 
• A 3-year-old girl died after a KURS 3-drawer chest tipped over and fatally pinned her to the floor. It is unknown whether the dresser was anchored or not. 

These statistics DO NOT INCLUDE AUSTRALIA.

So, what is happening in AUSTRALIA?

* At least 15 children under nine years old have died in Australia since 2000 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

So, what can you do to protect your family and loved ones?

Top Tips to Buy safe

* Only buy from reputable and knowledgeable suppliers and retailers

* Look for the Australasian Furnishing Association Member mark

* Check that furniture meets AUSTRALIAN Standards NOT other international standards

* Do not buy furniture designed for commercial use and use it in domestic environments and vice-versa

* Look for furniture that comes with safety information or equipment for anchoring to walls.

Top Tips to Use safe

* Conduct a Health Check of the furniture in your home or workplace

* Test the furniture – 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.

* 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 and ensure furniture is fit for purpose and compatible eg: Television cabinets designed for the size of the TV screen and anchored accordingly

* Discourage small children from climbing on furniture.

* Do not put tempting items such as favourite toys on top of furniture that tempts 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 furniture purchases.  Our industry members do work hard to ensure the safety of the products and the labels provide consumers with a sense of reassurance that careful consideration has been given to the purpose and use of the furniture.

What to look for

Look for the AFA Member approved Warning Labels as specified in AS/NZS 4935. If you’re not sure, then contact the AFA at www.australianfurniture.org.au

We strongly encourage consumers to check out the ACCC’s Safety tips and watch the safety video ‘Anchor it and Protect a Child’. 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.’

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Manufacturers and Importers of furniture that may be a tipping hazard are encouraged to get a copy of the AFA’s Toppling-furniture-prevention-best-practice-guide HERE

 

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