The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to promulgate a Direct Final Rule clarifying deadlines for the new nationwide standard for upholstered furniture flammability.  The new rule codifies the effective dates for compliance with the new national flammability standard (which incorporated California’s flammability testing standard already in effect) and allows for affected parties to comment if they are significantly adversely affected by the new rule.

As it currently stands, the new rule clarifies the effective dates and scope of furniture required to comply:  “The rule is effective on June 25, 2021, and applies to upholstered furniture manufactured, imported, or reupholstered on or after that date.”

According to the CPSC’s briefing package, up to 95 percent of furniture already complies with the California flammability standard.  Therefore, the CPSC rejected the presumptive one-year buffer period for the effective date, indicating that an earlier compliance date would not impose a significant burden on manufacturers.

The CPSC did extend the compliance date for the statute’s new labeling requirement, which requires manufacturers to include a permanent label on each product subject to the flammability standard that reads: “Complies with U.S. CPSC requirements for upholstered furniture flammability.”  The briefing package explains: “Because [labeling] is a new requirement, the Commission provides a later compliance date, for the labeling requirements only, to allow the furniture industry sufficient time to implement the new labeling requirements and address any supply chain issues that may exist for relabeling upholstered furniture. Accordingly, upholstered furniture manufactured, imported, or reupholstered on or after June 25, 2021, must comply with the flammability requirements of TB 117-2013, and comply with the labeling requirements by June 25, 2022.”

Notably, the June 25, 2021 compliance date for the flammability standard is not yet set in stone.  As a Direct Final Rule, the rule can be withdrawn and subject to a notice and comment period if a “significant adverse comment” is received by the CPSC within 30 days of promulgation.  A significant adverse comment is one in which “the commenter explains why the rule would be inappropriate, including an assertion challenging the rule’s underlying premise or approach, or a claim that the rule would be ineffective or unacceptable without change.”