100 kids killed: ‘Disturbing’ find in Ikea’s safety report
Australia's Ikea boss admits to being "disturbed" by the findings from a new report investigating safety for children around furniture at home.
The global retailer has endeavoured to remove risk hazards following a series of accidents when nearly 10 children were crushed to death by chest of drawers tipping and falling.
As part of the push, Ikea discovered almost one in every two Australians prioritise price over safety when purchasing furniture and a quarter don't have safety front of mind when making decisions to fit out their homes.
The lack of awareness has led to the death of 150 children 14-years and younger and the hospitalisation of 68,000 kids as a result of unintentional injuries, according to the Safer Life at Home report.
"It's quite disturbing to see the number of accidents that are happening in the home," Ikea Australia chief executive Jan Gardberg told news.com.au.
"A lot of the time when looking at the causes it could have been prevented or mitigated by just having a little bit of knowledge and taking a little bit more caution when designing the home."
Ikea had reached out to other furniture retailers in Australia to help spread the word and demonstrate how simple the changes can be to dramatically improve the safety of children.
But the responses from its competitors were underwhelming, Mr Gardberg said. Though he refused to reveal which companies had declined the invitation.
"It's a little bit unfortunate that there wasn't the same eager response from the rest of the industry but I'm an optimist and I believe that behaviour creates behaviour and the best example is the good example," he said.
"Our focus is to how we can improve safety and security in the home environment, it's not about hanging out any specific retailers.
"I would actually be glad if there would be other furniture dealers that would copy us and to join."
Mr Gardberg said the tragic deaths of children being crushed by drawers caused the major retailer to "change our approach to design", but this furniture wasn't the only item in the home posing a risk.
The cords hanging from blinds also present a significant hazard for kids.
"Unfortunately every month some children had died due to strangulation from the window blind, and I think anyone who buys a window blind would never think that could happen but looking into the statistics we saw that so four years ago we developed a complete range that doesn't have any cords at all," he said.
"One of the big accident areas is furniture that's toppling over, for example flat screen televisions."
Mr Gardberg said Ikea furniture comes with parts to allow it to be fixed to the walls but not all consumers were using this important feature.
The company has since designed drawers that have just two legs which forces the buyer to fasten it to the wall, as well as other cupboards that only allows one drawer to be opened at a time.
"I would like everyone to follow the commonsense and fasten the furniture to the wall," the Australian division boss said.
"I know that might mean two extra holes in the wall but those two extra holes that are drilled into the walls might actually save someone getting seriously hurt or injured."
As part of the campaign to raise awareness of security in the home, Ikea will be installing an oversized chest of drawers in the Tempe, Logan and Springvale stores for Children's Week starting today.
Kidsafe NSW executive officer Christine Erskine said the installation will help adults see the home from the perspective of a small child.
"While we want to prevent as many accidents in the home as possible, we also want children to enjoy and explore their environment," she said.
"Together, with Ikea, we can create a safer life at home, by raising awareness of the risks and showcasing how safety doesn't have to compromise on design."