Following a deal with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Ikea has announced that it will voluntarily recall 29 million chests and dressers nationwide after at least six young children died in tip-over accidents. At least one more child death and 70 injuries have been blamed on the dressers, but have not been acknowledged by the company as of yet. This has been a huge victory for consumer advocates who have been fighting to reduce the growing child death toll since 1989. Ikea USA CEO, Lars Petersson, blamed the incidents on parents not following assembly instructions, stating that the items were not intended to be free standing objects, but fastened to the wall with straps provided in the box. “If you are assembling correctly, the product is actually a very safe product,” he stated in an interview. “The death of a child is an incredible loss. It should never happen. So our hearts go out to the families that have to go through this.” The lawsuits, however, accuse Ikea of knowing the deadly risks involved, and neglecting to do anything about it, stating that the step was inadequate, because most consumers were unaware of the potential safety threat. Safety Commission statistics show that at least one child death occurs every two weeks in toppling furniture accidents, with about 38,000 emergency room visits per year. The accidents happen when young children, typically under the age of 5, slide drawers out from the dresser, and try to climb them like stairs. The style involved in the recall is the popular Malm line, with manufacturing dates in between 2014-2016. Most American furniture manufacturers adhere to voluntary safety standards, which ensure that a unit will not tip over when a drawer is extended and 50 pounds of weight applied. The recall applies to all Ikea furniture that has not passed this test. In the agreement, Ikea agreed to pick up recalled furniture from consumer’s homes and either issue a full refund, or install a wall anchor. Elliot Kaye, the Safety Commission Chairman, praised Ikea’s willingness to comply, but also emphasized that the company is not the only one with products that pose threats to children’s safety.
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