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Watchdog raises alarm on falling furniture

Toppling furniture has killed more than one Australian a year since 2000 and the nation’s consumer watchdog is looking to prevent more deaths.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is looking for feedback from consumers, manufacturers, retailers, safety advocates and health experts.

It said 28 people died due to falling furniture since 2000 as it released a consultation paper on Friday.

Toppling furniture has caused up to 900 injuries requiring medical attention per year, averaging about 20 incidents each week, with children at the highest risk.

Falling chests of drawers, wardrobes, bookcases, cabinets and entertainment units were the biggest risks to children.

The watchdog’s deputy chair, Delia Rickard, said the elderly were also in danger from toppling furniture.

“Parents and carers are reminded to check their home for toppling hazards and to anchor any tall or unstable furniture,” Ms Rickard said.

Friday’s consultation paper lays out some regulatory proposals, which would shake up design standards, boost consumer education and increase the wall anchoring.

It points to renters needing landlords’ permission to anchor furniture into walls, a lack of uniform safety standards and making current voluntary safety standards law.

The paper says the furniture industry’s uptake of voluntary safety reforms has been low and safety testers are rarely being approached for reviews.

It also warns if the government does nothing, it can expect another 14 related deaths in the next decade, on top of 10,000 injuries requiring medical attention, costing the economy an estimated $80.6 million over the 10 year period through providing healthcare.

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