Products Liability Law Daily CPSC direct final rule sets flammability standards for upholstered furniture under COVID-19 Act
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Friday, April 9, 2021

CPSC direct final rule sets flammability standards for upholstered furniture under COVID-19 Act

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

Flammability performance, testing, certification, and labeling standards for indoor upholstered furniture issued pursuant to COVID-19 Regulatory Relief and Work from Home Act issued.

Pursuant to the provisions of the COVID-19 Regulatory Relief and Work from Home Act, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a direct final rule to codify flammability and testing requirements, as well as certification and labelling standards, for upholstered furniture intended for indoor use. The final rule takes effect on June 25, 2021, unless the Commission receives a significant adverse comment by May 10, 2021 (CPSC Direct Final Rule86 FR 18440, April 9, 2021).

Background. As mandated by the COVID19 Act, the final rule codifies the flammability standards for upholstered furniture set forth by California’s Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation of the Department of Consumer Affairs in Technical Bulletin 117-2013 (TB 117-2013), which was published in June 2013. The CPSC found that the California standard accurately reflects the requirements of the COVID-19 Act and put regulated parties on notice of their legal responsibilities. The CPSC also issued a notice of proposed rulemaking inviting public comments by May 10, 2021 (86 FR 18491, April 9, 2021).

Flammability standards. The flammability standards set forth smolder resistance requirements for cover fabrics, barrier materials, resilient filling materials, and decking material for use in upholstered furniture intended for indoor use, bedding products, and children’s furniture. The standard does not apply to mattresses, foundations, bedding products, and furniture that was intended exclusively for physical fitness or exercise purposes.

Test procedures and apparatus requirements. Manufacturers of upholstered furniture are required to comply with the testing and certification requirements set forth in the California standard, which also specifies the apparatus that must be used for testing the smolder resistance of materials used in upholstered furniture.

Labeling requirements. Every manufacturer subject to the standard must include the statement: "Complies with the U.S. CPSC requirements for upholstered furniture flammability" on a permanent label located on the product. In light of the fact that this was a new labeling requirement, CPSC set a compliance date of June 25, 2022, to allow the furniture industry sufficient time to implement the requirement and to address any supply chain issues that could arise for the relabeling of upholstered furniture. The labeling requirements apply to upholstered furniture manufactured, imported, or reupholstered on or after the compliance date.

Preemption. The final rule provides that no state or political subdivision could establish, or continue in effect, any provision of a flammability law, regulation, code, standard, or requirement that was designed to protect against the risk of occurrence of fire, or to slow or prevent the spread of fire with respect to upholstered furniture. The rule does preserve certain state laws to the extent they related to health risks associated with upholstered furniture or were not designed to protect against the risk of occurrence of fire, or to slow or prevent the spread of fire with respect to upholstered furniture.

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