The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued new guidance and labeling instructions for the nationwide standard for upholstered furniture flammability.  On May 19, 2021, the CPSC published an online Q&A that provides important information to industry and previews the agency’s enforcement outlook.

The Q&A guidance confirms that the standard is effective as of June 25, 2021 but does not apply to items manufactured, imported, or reupholstered before June 25, 2021.  Industry has more time to implement the new labeling requirements:  the Q&A restates that the labeling requirement begins on June 25, 2022 and only applies to upholstered furniture manufactured, imported, or reupholstered on or after that date.

For the label font size, format, and placement, the guidance expands on the flammability standard with CPSC staff recommendations and specific examples:

Under 16 CFR part 1640, upholstered furniture subject to the standard must have a permanent label with the language: “Complies with U.S. CPSC requirements for upholstered furniture flammability.” CPSC staff recommends that the certification statement be conspicuous and legible.  The statement should be at least 1/8-inch high and not smaller than other text on the label; it should be in black text on a white background and surrounded with black border. The label may be a separate label, or it can be added to the bottom of an existing California TB 117-2013 label required by SB-1019. The required statement must appear on the front of the label in English and cannot be on the back side. However, additional languages may be on the back side of the label.

The guidance defines upholstered furniture as “general-use and children’s seating furniture” that is intended for indoor use, constructed with an upholstered seat, back, or arm, and has a cushion or pillow that can be used as a support for the body, limbs, or feet of an individual.

Importantly, the guidance now clarifies that the exemptions in the California upholstered furniture flammability standard are incorporated into the new federal standard.  Therefore, the new flammability standard does not apply to the following products set forth in California’s exceptions:

  • Any article which is smooth surfaced and contains no more than one-half (1/2) inch of filling material, provided that such article does not have a horizontal surface meeting a vertical surface.
  • Bassinets, booster seats, car seats, changing pads, floor play mats, highchairs, highchair pads, infant bouncers, infant carriers, infant seats, infant swings, infant walkers, nursing pads, nursing pillows, playpen side pads, playards, portable hook-on chairs, and strollers.

The CPSC’s guidance also addresses recordkeeping expectations, explaining that the only required certifications or proof of compliance is the furniture label stating that the product “Complies with U.S. CPSC requirements for upholstered furniture flammability.”  The CPSC recommends that manufacturers, importers, and reupholsterers maintain records of their compliance for “at least as long as the product remains in production.”