Due to the rising number of incidents, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and consumer protection agencies around Australia encourage all traders to consider their products and the risk to consumers of toppling furniture.
Toppling furniture—understanding the risks
Many may be aware of recent tragic deaths of young children caused by toppling furniture in Australia and overseas. Small children have a natural tendency to climb on furniture such as freestanding bookcases, drawers, wardrobes and sideboards. A child’s weight can easily cause unsecured furniture to topple, particularly if it has been made top-heavy by its contents or has heavy objects placed on it.
Since 2000, at least 27 people have died in Australia due to toppling furniture. Many more have been admitted to emergency rooms with injuries. Children under the age of 5 are particularly at risk and suffer the highest proportion of toppling furniture deaths and injuries in Australia.
Retailers have a responsibility to help keep customers safe
Major retailers of furniture in Australia and overseas have already adopted simple and affordable solutions to prevent toppling furniture incidents. This includes providing customers with furniture anchors and advising them about making safe choices when buying potentially unsafe furniture.
The ACCC and its associated state and territory consumer safety regulators remind all traders to provide customers with the means to reduce the risk of serious injuries caused by toppling furniture. Adopting safety initiatives voluntarily may also reduce the need for further consideration of government regulation in this area.
Businesses can help to prevent toppling furniture related injuries and reduce the likelihood of causing reputational damage by taking these steps:
- Provide furniture anchors to give consumers the opportunity to prevent furniture tip-over incidents from occurring
- Display and provide consumer safety information at the point of sale – you can print and use our Furniture Stability Factsheet about how to prevent injuries.
- Provide safety information on the company website – use the link to the online safety alert: Toppling furniture: Anchor it and protect a child.
- Print clear warnings in furniture assembly instructions and use in-store signage on or near relevant displays. Consider including information in your promotional material to help parents and carers identify and avoid toppling furniture risks.
- Train staff about furniture safety so they can assist customers with making safe choices.
- Watch our safety video about toppling furniture risks and use it in your staff training programs.
To discuss safety initiatives or trader responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law, please call Consumer Protection 1300 304 054.