Folding Tables Can Maim or Kill Children


Let’s be really clear about this message – children who are allowed to play around or move these tables may be in for a life-changing (or life-ending) experience. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) first warned of the potentially serious danger associated with folding metal school tables in 1989. It is unfortunate that these tables are still common in schools throughout our country – some may even be in your own facility. Our YMCAs’ loss experience confirms these tables are extremely dangerous. They can easily tip over, killing or maiming a nearby child.

Problems presented by these tables:

  • These tables are inherently unstable when folded. They can easily tip and crush children who climb or crawl on them. Those that fold into an inverted V-shape may be less dangerous but the same precautions should still be followed.
  • Motion increases the inherent instability of these tables in their folded position. If the wheels hit an obstruction the table’s forward momentum often causes overturn, especially if the table is not equipped with wheel extensions.
  • Although children may be capable of moving a table, they are neither tall nor strong enough to prevent overturn should anything unusual occur and thus should not be allowed such opportunity.

Steps that should be taken to prevent injuries:

  • Specifically look for such tables – in every location used by the YMCA, owned or non-owned, especially sites used for school-aged programming (i.e., school sites).
  • Remove any table of this type that is found – if that is impossible (e.g., they are owned by others), make certain they are not being used for your programming.
  • Store tables that cannot be removed in an area that is completely inaccessible to the children.
  • Secure (preferably lock) any table that cannot be made completely inaccessible to children to a wall or to one another (e.g., with a rope or cable) when they are in their folded state so that they cannot tip over if a child does climb on them. If they cannot be secured they should be locked or braced in the open position so that they cannot be folded.
  • Staff should never allow any child to move or assist in moving one of these tables. If this type of table is used and must be moved, the children should be kept well away from that area of activity.
  • Children should always be appropriately supervised to prevent any activity around such tables.
  • Children should be clearly informed of the dangers of playing on or near these tables.
  • All tables that are not removed from the programming area should have a label similar to the one adjacent that warns of the dangers of folding tables. Labels are available from The Redwoods Group. If there are any uncertainties regarding the dangers of a particular table, contact its manufacturer.

Please share this alert with your various programming partners

School districts, churches, community centers, etc. – to ensure that they are aware of the hazards that some folding tables can present. More importantly, be in control at every site you operate, owned or non-owned


Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.


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