Swedish furniture retailer IKEA announced this week it will recall nearly 30 million chests and dressers that can easily tip over onto children and result in serious injury or death. The defective furniture has been linked to the deaths of six children and nearly 30 injuries.
“Dressers and chests appear to be stable, sturdy pieces of furniture,” wrote Langdon & Emison partner Brett Emison in a recent blog post. “When drawers are extended, however, the units can become unstable and tip.”
According to Emison, IKEA issued a warning last year about the tipping danger. But, critics say the warning was simply not enough and Emison agrees.
“A manufacturer has a duty to provide a reasonably safe product,” Emison wrote. “A warning simply will not make a defective product safe.”
In engineering, the principles of design safety follow a hierarchy, which begins with an engineer identifying potential hazards in a product, like tipping furniture. The first goal is to design the product in a way that the hazard or danger no longer exists, Emison says.
In the case of IKEA’s furniture – including its MALM chests and dressers and another 21 million child and adult dressers in the U.S. – the design should incorporate a low center of gravity or additional weight in the rear of the furniture, to eliminate the possibility of tipping when a child attempts to climb on it.
If the engineer cannot create a design that eliminates the tipping danger, then a guard, such as an anchor or wall-tether, should be incorporated into the product, according to Emison.
“It is only when the danger is inherent in the product and cannot be guarded against that a warning would suffice.”
On average, a child is sent to the emergency room every 24 minutes and dies every two weeks due to injuries from tipping or falling furniture or televisions. Emison encourages parents to check any dressers, chests or televisions for tipping hazards and to secure furniture so that it cannot tip or fall onto a child.
Contact Langdon & Emison
For more than 30 years, Langdon & Emison has represented people who have been injured or lost loved ones due to defective products. Our personal injury lawyers have deep experience taking on the world’s largest corporations for designing and manufacturing products that cause harm to innocent consumers. Contact our firm for a free case evaluation at 800-397-4910 or click on the chat button to the right.