Views sought to help prevent deaths and injuries from toppling furniture and televisions

The ACCC is seeking submissions from stakeholders, including consumers, consumer safety advocates, the furniture and television industries, and medical professionals about the safety hazards posed by toppling furniture, such as bookshelves, drawers and televisions.

This is an Australian Competition & Consumer Commission media release, originally published on 2nd August, 2021.

There have been at least 27 deaths in Australia from toppling furniture and televisions since 2000. Most deaths involved the toppling of storage furniture such as chests of drawers, televisions and the furniture that televisions are placed on.

Children under the age of 5 are most at risk, followed by adults over 60. All age groups are at risk of injuries, including from the toppling of other furniture such as tables, desks and chairs.

“The weight of something like a bookshelf or large television falling on someone can result in serious injuries such as head injuries, broken bones, or death,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Furniture and televisions, including ready-made products and flat-packs that require customers to self-assemble, are often large and heavy, with the weight located towards the front of the unit.

The toppling risk increases when furniture is loaded with heavy items such as televisions, placing furniture on carpet, and through ordinary use such as opening drawers and doors which brings the weight of the unit further forward. The risk significantly increases when children climb furniture. 

“Reports show that children may reach for items by stepping on drawers and shelves, and the added weight of even a small child can cause the furniture to become unstable and topple,” Ms Rickard said.

Anchoring kits, supplied with some furniture and televisions and available for purchase separately, are used to attach the unit to a wall or other secure surface. While typically effective when used correctly, anchoring kits are not always used by consumers.

The submissions to an issues paper, released today, will support the ACCC to assess the factors affecting safety, and the potential options which may be effective in reducing the risk of injury and death.

“Tip-over accidents can happen quickly and we encourage everyone to check their home for toppling hazards and to anchor any tall or unstable furniture or televisions, and to consider tip?over safety when shopping for furniture,” Ms Rickard said.  

“While some manufacturers are making efforts to address the safety risks, we are seeking feedback about what more can be done to prevent deaths and injuries from toppling furniture.”

The issues paper and information on how to make a submission is available on Product Safety Australia. Consultation will close on 30 August 2021.

For background information and advice please visit the ACCC.

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