ALBANY, N.Y. – The New York State Assembly passed “Harper’s Law” on Thursday, May 30 – legislation that prohibits retailers in the state from selling clothing storage furniture that does not comply with the current voluntary furniture stability standard, unless the retailer provides a tip restraint and consumer warning for the non-compliant furniture.
If signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, retailers will have 90 days to comply.
Harper’s Law - named after Harper Fried, a three-year-old girl who died from a tip-over in 2016 - requires all new clothing storage furniture sold in retail stores or online to New York consumers to comply with stability standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or, in the absence of a mandatory federal standard, with the ASTM International voluntary furniture stability standard. Presently, there is no mandatory federal standard. The current version of the ASTM voluntary standard is F2057-17.
The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) issued a statement about the law on June 5, noting that this could create a precedent for many different state regulations on the issue of tip-over safety.
“While we support the purpose of Harper’s Law – which is to require compliance with the stability requirements of ASTM F2057-17 – the American Home Furnishings Alliance favors a mandatory federal standard and has called on the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) to develop one based on ASTM F2057-17,” said Andy Counts, CEO of the AHFA. “Without it, we are likely to see a patchwork of state regulations, resulting in confusion for manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike.”
The AHFA says Harper’s Law applies to freestanding clothing storage units that are 27 inches or taller. This would include chests, dressers, armoires and bureaus, as well as some nightstands with drawer storage. The current voluntary standard ASTM F2057-17 applies to clothing storage units over 30 inches tall.
A vote later this month may expand the scope to include clothing storage furniture between 27 and 30 inches tall.
The New York law states that retailers may sell clothing storage units that do not comply, including units between 27 and 30 inches. However, they must include a tip restraint and a permanent warning label.
Under the law, the AHFA says retailers can sell tip restraints for non-compliant furniture separately as long as they remain in stock and are prominently displayed in the store. The retailer must also place a warning notice in a prominent location in the store in lieu of the on-product warning label.
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