The $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress on Monday, December 21, and signed by President Trump on December 27, included more than 3,000 pages of legislation, including the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act (SOFFA).
The legislation was sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and renamed the “COVID-19 Regulatory Relief and Work from Home Safety Act” (S. 1341). It requires the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to adopt California’s Technical Bulletin 117-2013 as a federal flammability standard for residential upholstered furniture.
“As more Americans stay home during the pandemic, this legislation will help protect consumers and reduce the risk of upholstered furniture fires,” a brief summary of the measure released December 21 stated.
California TB 117-2013 outlines performance standards and methods for testing the smolder resistance of cover fabrics along with the barrier, filling and decking materials used in upholstered home furnishings. The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) formally petitioned the CPSC to adopt the measure as a national standard in October 2015 and later introduced SOFFA when no action from the agency was forthcoming. The legislation advanced in the House in 2017 and 2019 but remained stalled in the Senate.
AHFA learned on December 21 that SOFFA had been added to the massive year-end catchall bill that congressional leaders agreed to late Sunday, December 20. That bill combined $900 billion in COVID-19 aid with the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending package and reams of other unfinished legislation on taxes, energy, education, health care and, as it turns out, upholstered furniture flammability.
“The COVID-19 version of SOFFA still mandates the best test methods and construction standards we have today,” says AHFA CEO Andy Counts. “It also continues to prohibit differing state or local upholstered furniture flammability regulations.”
Although the “Work from Home Safety Act” is essentially the same as SOFFA, AHFA plans a series of webinars to review provisions within the law. The first webinar is slated Wednesday, January 27, at 2 p.m. Matt Howsare, chair of the product safety practice at Cooley, LLC, will walk AHFA member companies through the legislation.
Subsequent webinars will cover compliance testing, enforcement, labeling and minimizing risk. Webinar details and registration information will be on the Events page at www.ahfa.us.