Harkening back to his days as attorney general, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is joining other other Senators in sponsoring legislation that would protect children from falling furniture.
In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Blumenthal and two other Senate Democrats explained their legislation titled: Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth, or the STURDY Act.
The legislation, which Blumenthal is co-sponsoring with Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., would provide the furniture industry with 180 days to publish new, mandatory safety standards to prevent tip-overs of furniture such as bureaus, chests, and dressers. If the industry fails to produce new regulations, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) would then issue new standards themselves within 540 days of the bill passing.
“This measure is really a common sense simple fix that will prevent devastating premature death and injuries among our most precious and vulnerable groups — our children,” Blumenthal said. “And I know from my days as attorney general that these kinds of standards, if enforced, can save lives. They must be enforced.”
Right now, there are no safety standards that furniture companies are required to follow when building products that can tip over. Some companies follow a voluntary standard requiring furniture not to tip over when all the drawers are fully opened or when an opened drawer has a weight of up to 50 pounds. Not all companies follow that standard.
Some companies also interpret it to mean that their products are safe if they pass the two tests when consumers also buy and install special “wall straps.” During Thursday’s conference call, Blumenthal, Casey, and Schakowsky told reporters that they hope any mandatory standard would mean that buyers don’t need to also buy a wall strap to keep their furniture safe.
Blumenthal said that “the point about a mandatory standard is it would in effect be a uniform mandatory way to assure safety. Just as we do in other industries, with other products, rather than relying on each company to set its own criteria.”
According to the CPSC, tip-overs cause over 25,400 injuries per year, a majority of which involve furniture. That’s almost three injuries every hour.
Moreover, one child dies every two weeks from TVs or furniture or appliances falling onto them, according to the CPSC. Eighty-eight percent of those fatalities involve children under age eight.
The bill currently has no Republican sponsors.
“We are hoping that colleagues on both sides of the aisle will flock to this legislation; hard to see why they wouldn’t,” Schakowsky said.
In a statement, Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano called Blumenthal “out of touch” for focusing on furniture safety while Americans are out of work, the state faces “fiscal upheaval” and health insurance premiums are “skyrocketing” under the Affordable Care Act.
“If you were to do a survey of the things most important to the people of Connecticut, tipping furniture wouldn’t be in the top 100. Dick Blumenthal fights for things that no one cares about,” he said.
According to information from Congress.gov, the bill is the first that Blumenthal has sponsored in June. He sponsored three bills in May and five in April on issues including childhood obesity, food date labeling, and improved end-of-life care.