December 9, 2014 – HIGH POINT, N.C. – California officials notified the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) late yesterday that they have declined the group’s request for an extension in the deadline for upholstery manufacturers to comply with a new labeling requirement for upholstered furniture.
California Senate Bill 1019 was enacted on September 30, 2014. It amends Title 4 of the California Code of Regulations, which contains specifications for the compliance label that is required by the state’s flammability standard, known as Technical Bulletin 117-2013.
The new provision requires manufacturers to add a statement at the bottom of the TB 117-2013 flammability label indicating whether or not the product contains added flame retardant chemicals.
The bill further requires manufacturers to acquire and maintain documentation establishing the accuracy of this flame retardant chemical statement. Fines can be assessed if the documentation is not available to California officials within 30 days and/or if the documentation or the statement on the label is found to be inaccurate.
The deadline for complying with SB 1019 is the same as the deadline for complying with TB 117-2013: All upholstered furniture manufactured after December 31, 2014, and offered for sale in California must be tested to the new TB 117-2013 flammability standard and carry the new TB 117-2013 compliance label, including the FR chemical content statement.
AHFA has fielded a host of questions about how state officials might actually enforce the new labeling requirement. Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs, participated in the debate leading up to passage of the measure in September, and he has met with staff members from the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEAR-HFTI) in California several times since then, seeking responses to technical questions forwarded by AHFA member companies.
“The flame retardant content statement on the TB 117-2013 label applies to all the same components as the flammability standard itself: cover fabrics, barrier materials, resilient filling materials and decking materials. Expecting upholstery manufacturers to secure accurate documentation from all of these component suppliers within such a limited time frame was unrealistic. AHFA believed an extension in the compliance deadline for SB 1019 was warranted,” Perdue explains. “The bureau agreed an extension was justified, but following a legal review, it said it did not have the regulatory authority to grant one.”
Along with its request for an extension in the compliance deadline, AHFA submitted three pages of technical questions in an effort to clarify the bureau’s testing and record-keeping requirements, which AHFA considers to be vague within the language of the bill. Bureau officials say they will have answers to these questions to AHFA by December 12.
In October, AHFA provided its member companies with a guidance document explaining the requirements of SB 1019 and providing sample labels. Once answers to the technical questions have been returned to the Alliance, the staff plans to update and reissue the guidance document.
Non-member companies should watch the BEAR-HFTI website (www.bearhfti.ca.gov) for updates. The Bureau posted an industry advisory explaining SB 1019 on November 5, along with some frequently-asked questions.