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Clothing Storage Units to Be Targeted for Non-Compliance with Relevant Voluntary Standards

Consumer Product Safety Commission Deputy Executive Director DeWayne Ray recently urged importers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers of clothing storage units to ensure that their products comply with all applicable current voluntary safety standards, including all referenced standards and requirements contained in the latest revision of ASTM F2057-17, Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Units (published on 1 October 2017). Companies should therefore review their product lines immediately to ensure that all CSUs comply with this standard, according to Ray.

Importantly, Ray indicated that the CPSC’s Office of Compliance and Field Operations will regard non-compliant CSUs as having a defect that could present a substantial product hazard under Section 15(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Act. If any such products are encountered, the CPSC will initiate an investigation and seek protective action whenever appropriate. The law requires any product that presents a substantial product hazard to be refused entry into the United States or to be recalled if that product is already in circulation in the U.S. marketplace.

CSUs are freestanding furniture intended for storing clothing. They are typically bedroom furniture but may be used elsewhere. CSUs are available in a variety of designs (e.g., vertical or horizontal dressers), sizes (e.g., weights and heights) and materials (e.g., wood, plastic, leather). CSUs usually have a flat surface on top and commonly include doors or drawers for consumers to store clothing or other items. Examples of CSUs include chests of drawers, bureaus, dressers, armoires, wardrobes, portable closets and clothing storage lockers. CSUs do not include products that are permanently attached or built into a structure or products that are not typically intended to store clothing, such as bookcases, shelves, cabinets, entertainment furniture, office furniture or jewellery armoires.

In an effort to address the risk of injuries and death associated with CSUs tipping over, the CPSC began a rulemaking process in November 2017 that could result in the adoption of mandatory safety standards for these products. However, the recent determination that CSUs that do not comply with the current voluntary safety requirements present a substantial product hazard effectively mandates compliance with such requirements.

Section 15(b) of the CPSA requires every manufacturer, importer, distributor and retailer of consumer products to report immediately to the CPSC when the firm obtains information which reasonably supports the conclusion that such product distributed in commerce contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard or that such product creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. The failure to report information required by Section 15(b) is a prohibited act under Section 19 of the CPSA. Civil penalties may be assessed for knowingly failing to report the required information, while criminal penalties may be imposed for knowing and wilful violations of the CPSA.

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