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					September 2007 FTC54

Recliner chairs
Safety guidelines for consumers and suppliers
Young children between the ages of six months and five years have died and been injured in accidents involving recliner chairs. These injuries or deaths have usually occurred during unsupervised use or play, on or around a recliner chair. These guidelines apply to all new and second–hand recliner chairs sold in NSW. There are no penalties for non–compliance, however, the Office of Fair Trading may recall recliner chairs or issue a public warning under the Fair Trading Act 1987 if an injury occurs.

Requirements for new recliner chairs
Manufacturers and suppliers should supply chairs according to the following four guidelines.

1. Without head or body entrapment gaps of 95mm or more
Gaps can be tested using a 95mm spherical probe at a push force of 5kg applied to the probe to push it through the gap as set out in the Australian New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2172:1:2003 Cots for household use – Safety requirements. The chair would not trap a child's head if it has a mechanism to prevent accidental collapse of the footrest. The footrest is considered to accidentally collapse if it collapses when it is opened, locked and then unlocked from each partly open and fully opened lockable position, a total of 1,000 times and a force of 60kg is applied to the centre of the footrest. Footrests that have gaps of more than 95mm but have a mechanism to prevent accidental collapse of the footrest are considered to have passed the head or body gap requirements of the guideline. Chairs supplied for design reasons with gaps of 95mm or more must use methods that eliminate such gaps, such as completely covering any possible gaps with upholstery or using a crossbar that reduces the size of gaps when the chair is in the reclined position (see Diagram A on the next page).

Hazards
Head and body entrapment
Depending on the design of the recliner chair there can be an open gap created between the front edge of the chair and the edge of the footrest when the footrest is extended. A child can insert their head or body into this gap and possibly suffocate when the recliner closes. Fair Trading recommends there should be no gap between the edge of the seat and the edge of the footrest, using upholstery to completely cover possible gaps. However, if for design reasons there has to be a gap, it should not exceed 95mm.

Finger entrapment
Getting a child’s fingers caught in a recliner chair is more likely to occur where the metal bracket mechanism that supports the footrest has a sharp–angled edge. The scissor action of the mechanism can grab and trap fingers or toes as the footrest retracts. If the footrest is retracted with sufficient speed it can severely damage a child’s finger or even cut their finger off.

2. Without finger entrapment hazards
A recliner bracket due to its sharp edge and scissor action as the footrest retracts, should not grab a child’s finger or toe. This can be tested by placing a 7mm diameter HB pencil at an acute angle at the midpoint on the side of the bracket mechanism and quickly retracting the footrest.

Cavities
If there is a large cavity with a depth of 200mm or more under the seat when the footrest is extended, a young child could crawl into the cavity and possibly get seriously hurt if the footrest is accidentally closed.

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September 2007 FTC54

If the pencil snaps, or is significantly marked, the bracket mechanism could cause serious injury. As a minimum requirement and where possible, fit plastic guards to both sides of the mechanism to limit access.

4. Supply safety information 
It can be in the form of safety brochures or swing tags on the chair. A permanent safety warning label should be placed on the metal bracket mechanism of the footrest and clearly visible when the footrest is extended. The warning should read: Do not allow children to play on the chair. Always leave the chair in an upright and closed position after use. ● Keep hands and feet clear of the mechanism. ● Only the occupant should operate the chair.
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3. Without cavity hazards 
The recliner chair should not have a cavity with a depth of 200mm or more that occurs under the seat when the footrest is extended. Diagram A (with mid‑bar fitted) shows dimensional limits and the position of a mid–bar.

The wording ‘CAUTION’ in the American Furniture Manufacturer’s Association Guideline for recliner chairs is also acceptable.

Second‑hand recliner chairs (repaired or re‑upholstered)
Suppliers should: Remove head entrapment gaps of 95mm or more. This could include completely covering any possible gaps with upholstery or using a crossbar that reduces the size of open gaps below 95mm when the chair is in the reclined position. ● Minimise finger entrapment hazards by fitting guards to both sides of the bracket mechanism to limit access, where possible. ● Ensure a safety warning label is attached to the recliner.
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Diagram B (without mid–bar fitted)

Advice to parents and carers
Parents and carers should: Only purchase new recliner chairs that comply with the above requirements. ● Read and follow safety advice in an information brochure or on a warning label. ● Discourage young children, particularly those under the age of five years, from playing on recliner chairs and handling the bracket mechanism.
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Both diagrams show recliners that do not have a mechanism to prevent inadvertent collapse of the footrest.

Owners of older reclining chairs should modify gaps greater than 95mm between the edge of the seat and the

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September 2007 FTC54

extended footrest. Ask the supplier or an upholsterer to attach a mid‑bar and an upholstery flap or ‘chase’.

Need more information?
Office of Fair Trading Safety and Standards Branch Tel: 02 8467 4469

www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au Fair Trading enquiries 13 32 20 TTY 1300 723 404 Language assistance 13 14 50

This fact sheet must not be relied on as legal advice. For more information about this topic, refer to the appropriate legislation.

© State of New South Wales through NSW Fair Trading You may freely copy, distribute, display or download this information with some important restrictions. See NSW Fair Trading's copyright policy at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or email publications@services.nsw.gov.au

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