SAFEGUARDS | Hardgoods NO. 090/19
On May 30, 2019, the New York State Assembly passed “Harpers’ Law”. A law which mandates retailers to sell clothing storage units that are to compliant to the current industry recognized stability standard, ASTM F2057. Non-compliant units would require permanent warning labels and must be sold with tip restraint. The law was named after Harper Fried, a three-year-old girl who died in 2016 as a result of a clothing tip-over incident.
ASTM F2057 “Standard Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Units”, is a voluntary US standard originally published in 2000. It aims to reduce the rate of fatal incidents associated with the tipping-over of free-standing clothing storage items.
A clothing storage item is defined as, “a furniture item intended for the storage of clothing typical of bedroom furniture”, and specifically mentions chests, door chests, and dressers.
The standard does not cover:
- Shelving units (e.g. bookcases and entertainment units)
- Office furniture
- Dining room furniture
- Jewelry armoires
- Under-bed drawer storage units
- Built-in units intended to be permanently attached to the building
Requirements include two stability evaluations, where an empty and unrestrained unit is tested in both an “unloaded” and “loaded” configuration.
- Stability unloaded: must remain stable when all of its drawers are open and all doors open to 90 degrees
- Stability loaded: must remain stable when 50 pounds of weight are applied to the front edge of each individually opened drawer and door
Other requirements of ASTM F2057 include:
- Unit must be sold with tip-over restraints that adhere to ASTM F3096, Standard Performance Specification for Tipover Restraint(s) Used with Clothing Storage Unit(s)
- Unit must include permanent warning labels regarding the tip-over risks must be attached in conspicuous locations that are visible when the product is in use
The current edition, ASTM F2057-17, includes clothing storage units with a height 30 inches and greater. ASTM F2057 is expected to be updated this year lowering the height applicability to 27 inches. Harper’s Law, anticipating this change, includes its own 27” height applicability.
The law was partially created, to address the lack of a Federal clothing storage unit stability regulation. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the applicable Federal authority, is reviewing a mandatory requirement.
In the interim, the CPSC has strongly urged compliance to ASTM F2057. On February 27, 2019, the CPSC released a letter addressed to manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers which made it clear that all clothing storage units that are covered by ASTM F2057, but do not adhere to its requirements, will now be considered “defective”. CPSC can initiate an investigation when a defective product presents a substantial hazard to the public and can seek corrective action when deemed appropriate.
On the same day, Acting US CPSC Chairman Buerkle addressed the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) Annual Training & Symposium reinforcing CPSC’s position.
If signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, retailers would have 90 days to comply. If signed, and in the event ASTM F2057’s height lowering is not approved, NY state would require applying ASTM F2057 to clothing storage units 27” and higher regardless. Signing Harper’s Law would make NY the first and only state to mandate such a requirement.
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