Toppling furniture and televisions: Anchor them for child safety

Children like climbing things and never think of the possible consequences, especially if there is something up high that they want. However, the weight of furniture like bookshelves and entertainment units is enough to crush them.

Sadly, at least 22 children under the age of nine years have died in Australia since 2001 in accidents like this.

While most parents are aware of certain risks and furniture like bookshelves have equipment and instructions for anchoring them to a wall at purchase, other items such as chests of drawers, sideboards and TV stands often do not come with instructions and equipment and are not considered hazardous until accidents occur.

   

Source: https://www.productsafety.gov.au/news/anchor-furniture-to-stop-deaths-and-injuries

Safety tips

  • Attach, mount, bolt or otherwise secure furniture and televisions to walls and floors.
  • Put locking devices on all drawers to prevent children opening them and using them as steps.
  • Do not put heavy items on top shelves of bookcases.
  • Discourage small children from climbing on furniture.
  • Do not put tempting items such as favourite toys on top of furniture that encourages children to climb up and reach.
  • Do not place unstable furniture near where children play.

Buying tips

  • Look for furniture that comes with anchoring devices. If it doesn’t include them, ask whether they’re available in the store.
  • Purchase low-set furniture or furniture with sturdy, stable and broad bases.
  • Tell retail staff if you have small children in your home so they can advise you about safer options.
  • Ask if your retailer applies the Best Practice Guide to their product range.

Best practice guide for furniture and television tip over prevention

In an effort to educate consumers, retailers and manufacturers about the dangers of toppling furniture, and the steps that should be taken to prevent this, the National Retail Association Technical Standards Committee released a Best Practice Guide for Furniture and Television Tip-Over Prevention in 2016.

The Guide was developed by the National Retail Association, in consultation with a range of businesses and with support from the ACCC, the Australian Furniture Association (AFA) and the Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association (CESA). Other consumer product associations such as the Australian Furniture Associations and the Consumer Electronics Suppler Association (for televisions) support the NRA in this initiative.

Key recommendations

The Guide recommends that suppliers of furniture and televisions:

  • develop a company policy that outlines systems to address tip-over hazards associated with their products and states their commitment to support the policy
  • affix to the products (or supply with them) anchor devices that are fit for the purpose
  • provide consumer information about tip-over hazards and prevention that includes warning labels
    • in user / assembly instructions
    • on any packaging, including for flat-packed furniture, and
    • on the product
  • develop and maintain staff training programs and manuals about furniture and television consumer safety initiatives
  • provide consumer literature illustrating the various means of anchoring furniture and televisions
  • display warnings in the vicinity of tall furniture and televisions strongly advising consumers to use anchors to secure them to a wall or other building structure

The guide focuses on improving furniture and television stability through design, pre-installing anchor devices and educating consumers at point of sale. It covers products such as chests of drawers, wardrobes, shelving as well as televisions.

The best practice guide contains advice on:

  • furniture design
  • roles for manufacturers, importers and retailers
  • types of anchoring devices
  • effective user instructions
  • consumer education

Using this guide, retailers can work with their suppliers to provide safer products. But with this consumer safety issue, consumers also have a key role to play. As well as building safety into products, retailers who follow the best practice guide will help educate consumers on the importance of anchoring their product once they get it home.

DOWNLOAD THE BEST PRACTICE GUIDE

Get involved

The NRA Technical Standards Committee (NRA-TSC) brings together quality assurance and product compliance specialists from multiple retail categories to discuss challenges and solutions in terms of product safety and compliance.

This group provides an opportunity for retailers to:

  • Keep up to date with changes in the technical standards applying to your products
  • Learn from your peers in other Australian retail chains and stores about problems and solutions
  • Contribute to and formulate national policy and standards as a Standards Australia nominating committee
  • Engage in the dialogue between the retail sector and government and regulators about the issues concerning your business
  • Attend presentations on topical issues from guest speakers from industry, regulators and suppliers
  • Network with other product safety professionals and specialists in your field of expertise
MORE ABOUT THIS COMMITTEE

Contact our team

David Stout

David Stout

Director Policy National Retail Association
David is a highly-respected senior executive across a wide range of retail sectors including corporate affairs, operations, customer insights, finance, procurement, risk and regulation, stakeholder engagement, community and supply chain.  He is favourably regarded as a bipartisan and ethical operative in best practice across retail and corporate industry, regional and urban councils, local and state governments, and is currently involved in multiple advisory groups / committees.
Ebony Johnson

Ebony Johnson

Project Manager, Policy National Retail Association
As Project Manager in the Policy team, Ebony brings a strong background across the retail and hospitality sectors in project management, stakeholder relations, marketing, events and communications. Ebony provides project management expertise to multiple projects, including NRA’s bag ban programs, sustainability, product safety, retail crime and committees.