Safety first with furniture

At least 15 children under the age of nine have died in Australia since 2000 after domestic furniture fell on them.

This is around one death per year, according to information provided by the Australian Furniture Association, quoting the National Coronial Information System.

The three most common furniture items were chairs, chest of drawers/tallboys and tables/benches/desks.

So what can you do to protect your family and loved ones? The AFA provided these tips.

When buying:

  • Only buy from reputable and knowledgeable suppliers and retailers
  • Look for the Australian Furniture Association Members mark
  • Check that furniture meets AUSTRALIAN Standards NOT other international standards
  • Do not buy furniture designed for commercial use and use it in domestic environments and vice-versa
  • Look for furniture that comes with safety information or equipment for anchoring to walls.

When using:

  • Conduct a Health Check of the furniture in your home or workplace
  • Test the furniture – make sure it is stable. For example, pull out top drawers of a chest of drawers and apply a little pressure to see how stable it is; make sure the drawers do not fall out easily.
  • Attach, mount, bolt or otherwise secure furniture to walls and floors.
  • Do not put heavy items on top shelves of bookcases.
  • Place televisions at the back of cabinets or secure them to the wall and ensure furniture is fit for purpose and compatible eg: Television cabinets designed for the size of the TV screen and anchored accordingly
  • Discourage small children from climbing on furniture.
  • Do not put tempting items such as favourite toys on top of furniture that tempts children to climb up and reach.
  • Do not place unstable furniture near where children play.
  • Put locking devices on all drawers to prevent children opening them and using them as steps.

The AFA recommends consumers look for the AFA approved ‘Warning Labels’ when making furniture purchases.

“Our industry members do work hard to ensure the safety of the products and the labels provide consumers with a sense of reassurance that careful consideration has been given to the purpose and use of the furniture,” a spokesperson said.

“Look for the AFA Member approved Warning Labels as specified in AS/NZS 4935. If you’re not sure, then contact the AFA at www.australianfurniture.org.au

“We also recommend consumers check out the ACCC’s Safety tips and watch the safety video 'Anchor it and Protect a Child',” she said.

Hidden dangers: Do not put tempting items such as favourite toys on top of furniture that tempts children to climb up and reach.

Hidden dangers: Do not put tempting items such as favourite toys on top of furniture that tempts children to climb up and reach.

“Every life is valuable and the more information that is available to help avoid the pain and suffering of another Australian family is absolutely imperative.”

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