Tip-over hazards of folding tables

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The first warning that certain folding metal school tables could tip over and cause death or serious injury was issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 1989. Unfortunately, these tables are still common in schools throughout our country and some may even be in your own facility. 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.
  • Motion increases the instability of these tables. 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 pushing a table from one place to another, they are neither tall nor strong enough to prevent overturn should anything unusual occur.

Steps that should be taken to prevent injuries:

  • Every location used by the YMCA, specifically including off-site facilities like before/after-school sites, should be surveyed for such tables.
  • Any table of this type should be removed from the site; if that is impossible (e.g., they are owned by others), the tables should not be used for your programming.
  • Tables that cannot be removed should be stored in an area inaccessible to the children.
  • Tables that are not completely inaccessible to children should be secured to a wall or to one another (e.g., with a rope or cable) when 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 the tables. If the tables are used and must be moved, the children should be kept well away from that area of activity.
  • Children should be appropriately supervised to prevent activity around such tables.
  • Children should be clearly informed of the dangers of playing on or around the tables.
  • All tables that are not removed must be equipped with a label warning of the dangers of folding tables. Labels should be available from the manufacturer. If you are uncertain about the dangers of a specific table, contact its manufacturer.

In February 2005 the CPSC released a bulletin naming manufacturers that would provide free warning labels to attach to the tables. Those listed (italic font indicates that they will also provide generic labels) were:

  • Biofit Engineering Seating: PO Box 109, Waterville, OH 43566. (800) 597-0246
  • KI: PO Box 8100, Green Bay, WI 54308. (920) 468-8100
  • Midwest Folding Products Mfg. Corp.: 1414 S. Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608. (312) 666-3366
  • Palmer Snyder Furniture (formerly Mesa): 143 S. Jackson St., Elkhorn, WI 53121. (262) 723-8200
  • Sico, Inc.: 7525 Cahill Rd, Edina, MN 55440. (800) 424-0796 or (952) 829-5141
  • Virco Mfg. Co.: 2027 Harpers Way, Torrance, CA 90501. (310) 533-0474

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, control every site you operate – owned or non-owned – DON’T EXPOSE YOUR CHILDREN TO THIS DANGER.

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

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