IKEA is recalling millions of its drawers following the tragic deaths of eight children. Picture: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP
IKEA is recalling millions of its drawers following the tragic deaths of eight children. Picture: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

IKEA recalls 17 million chests after 8 deaths

IKEA relaunched a recall of 17.3 million chests and dressers after the death of an eighth child.

CEO Lars Petersson said IKEA wants to increase awareness of the recall campaign for several types of chest and dressers that can easily tip over if not properly anchored to a wall.

The death of a California toddler, who was found trapped underneath an IKEA Malm dresser in May, has raised questions about whether IKEA has effectively spread the word about the recall, which was first announced in June 2016.

The Swedish retailer and the federal safety regulators are asking customers to take immediate action to secure the dressers, or to return them.

Petersson said IKEA has had an "extensive communication" campaign through social media, its website and television and print ads.

The company emailed 13 million people about the recall two months ago, he said.

The IKEA Malm Dresser
The IKEA Malm Dresser

Still, he said heightening awareness of the recall is necessary "because we think that it's so important to reach as many people as possible".

Acting CPSC chairwoman Ann Marie Buerkle said that people who own the furniture can take care of any potential hazards by contacting IKEA.

The recall is for children's chests and drawers taller than 60cm and adult chests and dressers taller than 75cm. Customers should contact IKEA for a free wall-mounting kit.

The company is also offering to send crews to attach them.

IKEA originally said the recall was for 29 million chest and drawers in the US but has revised the figure to 17.3 million because the bigger figure included furniture that didn't fit the parameters of the recall.

Canadian safety officials issued a similar recall last year for IKEA chest and dressers that don't meet North American voluntary standards.

IKEA is offering full refunds for anyone who no longer wants the chest and dressers manufactured between January 2002 and June 2016. Those with recalled furniture made before that can receive a partial store credit.

Customers can bring them to a store, or IKEA will pick them up.

At least eight children under the age of 3 have been killed when an IKEA dresser fell on them, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The first death occurred 28 years ago and the others happened after 2002.

The latest death was Jozef Dudek, 2, of Buena Park, California. The toddler had been put down for a nap when his father went in to check on him and found him under the dresser, according to details released by lawyers retained by the family.

Alan Feldman, one of the lawyers representing the Dudek family, said IKEA's recall has been ineffective and the recent announcement will not change that. Rather than distributing wall-mounting kits to people, Feldman said IKEA needs to get "these dangerous dressers out of kids' bedrooms".

The Dudek family never received any additional information about the dresser from IKEA even though they bought it directly from the retailer and had given the company their email and home address to join a customer loyalty program.

"It sounded to me like the same lame, ineffective recall that we've had since the children were killed," Feldman said.

The same team of lawyers represented the families of three toddlers who died when IKEA dressers fell on them.

IKEA reached a US$50 million ($73m) settlement with those families last December.

Feldman said the Dudek family will also sue IKEA.

Petersson said that more than 1 million dressers have been returned for a refund or have been secured to walls with IKEA's help since 2015, when the company first offered free wall-mounting kits.

Buerkle said IKEA has "worked hard to make this an effective recall".

She said it presents customers with an array of options "and is as least burdensome to the consumer as it could be".

IKEA said the recalled products are sold with instructions that they had to be attached to walls.

Petersson said the recalled units are safe when this is done.

The recall is for all IKEA chest and dressers that do not comply with voluntary industry standards.

They included 8 million Malm chest and dressers sold from 2002 through June 2016.

Petersson said that IKEA has stopped selling products that do not adhere to voluntary standards, which were first developed for furniture stability in 2000 and have been updated several times since.

The latest version includes a requirement that furniture like dressers should come with wall restraints.

This article originally appeared on The New Zealand Herald.

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