CONSHOHOCKEN, PA: After two children were killed when unsecured Ikea Malm chests fell on them last year, Ikea is doling out free wall-anchoring kits to millions of customers.
The kits are part of a nationwide repair program, specifically focused on the tip-over hazard of about 7 million Malm chests and 20 million other Ikea chests and dressers. The program was inspired after the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Ikea received a report about the deaths, which occurred in February and June 2014.
In addition, Ikea and CPSC have received 14 reports of tip-over incidents involving Malm chests that resulted in four injuries
According to CPSC’s guidelines, a repair is defined as a recall. However, Ikea is not using the term "recall" in its communications materials. And some media outlets are reporting that Ikea is "denying" that this is a recall.
Ikea did not respond to PRWeek’s calls or emails.
The Swedish retailer has been working with the CPSC to communicate about the kits. The CPSC published a statement about the repair program on Wednesday, urging customers to make sure their furniture is securely anchored to the wall.
"We do not want consumers to put this on their to-do list," Scott Wolfson, communications director for CPSC, told PRWeek. "This is so critically important that they need to act immediately to contact Ikea, order the kit, and install it."
He added that people who are not permitted to put holes in walls, such as renters, should discard the furniture.
When asked why it took Ikea and the CPSC over a year to communicate about the deaths and potential safety hazard of the 27 million pieces of furniture, Wolfson explained that a number of steps had to take place to ensure consumers were getting the "best" information.
"There are times when CPSC has to take additional steps, such as doing an investigation into an issue, and then there is that additional time where our engineers need to look at a repair kit that has been proposed to make sure that it will enhance safety for the consumer," he said.
Wolfson was "legally" not able to disclose when CPSC and Ikea found out about the deaths.
Ikea already has an ongoing campaign in place which addresses general home safety issues, and has been posting new information about the anchoring kits to the campaign’s page on its website. The retailer also published a statement about the repair program.
"We hope our efforts help prevent further tragedies," said Patty Lobell, Ikea’s US Commercial Manager, in the statement.
She added that Ikea is committed to helping raise awareness of this serious home safety issue and is continuing to provide consumers with the tools and knowledge they need to prevent accidents.
Ikea has also been posting links to the information and safety tips on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
Product safety is our highest concern. Free kits for securing chests of drawers to walls are online & in stores: http://t.co/PhxlqdJdQa.— IKEA USA News (@IKEAUSANews) July 22, 2015
Earlier this month, the CPSC told PRWeek that its using visuals to communicate with consumers about risk factors in the home as part of its Anchor It! campaign.
"There is a child rushed into an emergency room every 24 minutes because of either furniture or a TV tipping over," Wolfson said. "And once every two weeks, a child actually dies from this kind of incident."