Harper’s Law takes effect in New York

Image shows a safety sticker on a dresser drawer

Harper’s Law takes effect Oct. 12 in New York State, putting greater responsibility for furniture safety on retailers there.

Under this law, retailers may not sell new clothing storage units that don’t comply with ASTM’s stability standards. In addition, they must display, keep in stock and offer for sale tip-restraint devices.

The law also requires retailers to post an easily seen notice warning customers that, “Certain furniture may become unstable and tip over, leading to possible injury or death. Tip restraint devices may prevent tipping of furniture when properly installed.” The law defines those devices as “straps, wall brackets, steel cables or plug-and-screw sets.”

The text of the law is here.

The Home Furnishings Association this week sent an email alert to members in New York reminding them of the effective date of the law.

Child’s death prompted law

The law is named for Harper Fried, the 3-year-old daughter of Aaron and Erica Fried. Harper was killed in 2016 when a dresser in her bedroom fell over on her. Aaron and Erica, who live in Harrison, N.Y., formed a foundation, called HarperSmiles, to promote furniture safety.

HFA member Crowley Furniture & Mattress in Kansas City partners with a similar organization called Charlie’s House. Crowley and Charlie’s House inform the public about home safety and distribute 25,000 tip-restraint kits annually. Owner Greg Crowley believes these efforts are making a positive difference in the communities his business serves.

Aaron Fried of HarperSmiles has offered to work with New York furniture retailers to promote safety much as Charlie’s House and Crowley Furniture work together. He can be reached through the organization’s Facebook page.

Harper’s Law should not change the practices of HFA members. They already should have removed from their inventory all covered products that don’t meet ASTM stability standards. The Consumer Products Safety Commission issued a stern warning in February:

Risk of injury or death

“Children face an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death from clothing storage units that fall within the scope of the ASTM F2057-17 standard but do not meet its requirements,” CPSC said. “Should we encounter such products, we shall initiate an investigation and will seek the corrective action we believe is appropriate.”

CPSC recently has initiated recalls of several products that failed tests for stability. Retailers should not sell furniture that poses safety risks. In New York, they should be prepared to comply with Harper’s Law.

Retailers who have questions may call Doug Clark, HFA’s government relations liaison, at 916-757-1167.

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