New flammability regulation requires updated labeling in 2021

The Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act passed by Congress in December as part of a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill requires the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to adopt a federal flammability standard this year, resulting in a new compliance statement for all upholstered furniture law labels.

Originally drafted by the American Home Furnishings Alliance, SOFFA was renamed the “COVID-19 Regulatory Relief and Work From Home Safety Act” and signed by President Trump on Dec. 27.

The regulation requires the CPSC to adopt California’s Technical Bulletin 117-2013 as a federal flammability standard by June 25. While the federal rule calls for no changes in the smolder test procedures for upholstery components outlined in TB 117, it does require a new compliance statement on the law label.

The new statement is: “Complies with U.S. CPSC requirements for upholstered furniture flammability.”

For upholstered furniture sold outside California, this statement should be used in lieu of the California TB 117-2013 compliance statement.

For upholstered furniture sold in California, both the CPSC and the California certification statements are needed, according to officials from the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services, which oversees TB 117-2013 enforcement.

Diana Godines, policy manager for the California BHGS, addressed the issue during an AHFA members-only webinar on Feb. 24.

She said California could decide to adopt the CPSC compliance statement at some time in the future. However, she advised that amending TB 117-2013 to accept the CPSC statement would take a minimum of 24 months. In the meantime, manufacturers and importers should plan to include both flammability compliance statements on the law label.

Godines also emphasized that the law label on upholstered products sold in California must continue to include the flame retardant content statement required by California SB 1019.

To simplify labeling procedures, manufacturers and importers can use the longer California label containing both the CPSC and the California compliance statements on upholstered products sold in states other than California.

CPSC officials have not said whether they will establish any “sell-through” period for legacy inventory after the new standard is promulgated in June. Although the majority of residential upholstered furniture sold in the U.S. already complies with the testing requirements of TB 117-2013, a sell-through period could impact how quickly manufacturers and importers need to update their law labels with the new CPSC compliance statement.

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