Though more and more parents are learning there are safety hazards related to everyday items and furnishings, many do not realize the risks their children face on a daily basis in the home. One is example is the dangers posed by defective dresses and chests of drawers. These pieces of furniture are in just about every bedroom in the United States, and in many cases children grow up around them without an issue. Unfortunately, some defectively designed dressers pose a threat to children, but too often risks are not identified until children are harmed.
IKEA Dressers Recalled because of Safety Concerns
Recently, six children died and dozens were injured because of IKEA dressers tipping over and crushing the children beneath. IKEA now faces multiple lawsuits related to its dressers and the company has issued safety alerts intended to inform furniture owners about these risks. The company has recalled up to 30 million dressers in the United States and Canada because of injuries caused by the furniture pieces.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there have been eight million IKEA chest and dresser units sold from the company’s MALM furniture line affected by the recall. An estimated 21 million dressers in total in addition to the MALM line are included in the recall.
Children ranging in age from 19 months to 10 years have been injured by MALM dressers tipping over. Another 41 incidents involving tipping furniture, including three deaths of children under age four, have been linked to IKEA furniture. Incidents have been reported as far back as 1989.
The most recent incidents involving the MALM furniture line include a two year old Pennsylvania boy’s death in February 2014 and another in June of that year that involved a 23 month old Washington State boy. A third death was reported in February 2016 when a 22 month old Minnesota by was crushed by a six drawer MALM chest.
MALM Dressers Posed Long-term Threat to Children
The safety of the MALM line of furniture has been an issue for some time and after the first child’s death directly linked to a MAML dresser, IKEA launched a marketing campaign calling attention to the dangers of having unanchored pieces from the line in the home. The company also began distributing kits to help furniture owners anchor the dressers to the walls. There was no official recall at that time – something for which IKEA was criticized by consumer advocate groups.
Problems with the MALM dressers and other IKEA furniture occur when children pull drawers or drawers are left open and they climb up the furniture piece using the drawers as stair steps. Most US manufactures design their furniture to withstand up to 50 pounds of weight in this manner without tipping, but all IKEA units on the current recall list failed the 50 pound test.
According to IKEA president and CEO Lars Petersson issued a statement that these pieces were never intended to be stand-alone and should be anchored to the walls when assembled.
In addition to the issuance of the safety kits to help owners of IKEA furniture anchor their pieces, the company eventually discontinued sales of the affected units. The company has also offered to have associates visit the homes of dresser owners to install the anchor kits or to pick up the recalled items and provide a refund.
To date, at least one lawsuit has been filed by the parents of the children killed when their dressers tipped over. According to the suit, the company is responsible for poor product design and failure to issue adequate warnings about its defective products.
Safe Ownership of IKEA’s Defective Dressers
It’s important for parents and those with young children in their homes to realize how dangerous unanchored furniture can be. Dressers are especially dangerous because their drawers invite children to climb on the pieces. Additionally, heavily loaded drawers alone can cause the piece to tip if opened too far.
In order to keep children safe in the home, furniture owners should follow the safety guidelines provided by manufacturers and use common sense when purchasing pieces. It’s also important to avoid leaving children unsupervised near furniture pieces that could pose risks. Our goal is to make sure parents are aware of safety recalls regarding furniture and that they understand they might have legal options if a furniture piece causes injury to their children.