Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

As more communities lift pandemic-based restrictions on travel and social gathering sizes, Americans will increasingly begin moving homes and renovating furnished rental and guest rooms—which often includes replacing older mattresses.  Historically, mattresses were highly flammable and contributed significantly to house fires, leading Congress to address the safety concern through its enactment of the Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA) in the 1970s.

Through the FFA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has authority to regulate mattresses and mattress pads, including setting a federal flammability standard (16 C.F.R. § 1632), which was promulgated in 1973 to require ignition resistance of mattresses and mattress pads to smoldering cigarettes.  The standard applies to mattresses—including traditional mattresses of all sizes, crib mattresses, futons, mattresses in sleeper sofas and campers, and water bed and air mattresses containing upholstery materials—and mattress pads and covers.  The federal Standard for the Flammability (Open-Flame) of Mattress Sets (16 C.F.R. § 1633), which became effective in 2007, was designed to increase the time that consumers have to discover and escape bed fires by limiting the size of the fire generated by a mattress set.  Mattresses must meet the performance, labeling, and record keeping requirements of both standards as applicable before the products can be entered into commerce in the United States.


Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Mattress Recalls

Furniture installation

I was feeling rather smug, having ordered a children’s product and shipped it home in advance of visiting my parents with my four year old. But as I was congratulating myself on advanced planning, I received a series of emails from my parents. The product required some assembly, and the instructions appeared to be incorrect. I confess my initial reaction was concern – perhaps my parents were losing mental dexterity earlier than expected? But more emails followed, explaining that the company’s customer service center had told my parents that, yes, the instructions were incorrect and revised instructions were in the works. With some phone guidance, the product was finally assembled. My parents were understandably frustrated by the whole experience.  So much for advanced planning!

While at first blush this scenario sounds like a customer service issue, it could also have real legal implications. 
Continue Reading Some Assembly Required: When Product Instructions Implicate Legal Concerns