Fretwork | (NEW) FFR Review SCOPE
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(NEW) FFR Review SCOPE

(NEW) FFR Review SCOPE

This document has been handed to FRETWORK from an unknown source. We obviously have no idea if it is “true” or not but it does conform to expectations in many places.

It is not in the Public Domain and FRETWORK cannot accept responsibility if an individual chooses to go beyond our discrete use of it.

 

Contents

 

Questions for FFSEG

Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Scope Policy Paper

Background

Policy aims

Summary of policy recommendations

Definition of scope of regulations

Exclusion based on whether washable

Scatter cushions and seat pads

Outdoor furniture

Second-hand furniture and furniture produced pre-1950

Baby products

Research recommendation

Annex A: Policy analysis

Defining the scope of the new regulations

Recommendation 1

Clarifications and exclusions

Sleeping bags and mattress protectors

Recommendation 2

Scatter cushions and seat pads

Recommendation 3

Outdoor furniture

Recommendation 4

Second-hand furniture

Recommendation 5

Baby products

Recommendation 7

Additional research for future consideration

References

 

 

Questions for FFSEG

 

Q1. Do you agree with each of the recommendations made in this paper (see summary section)? If not, why not?

 

Q2. For each recommendation we would welcome your views on whether it can maintain the current fire standards.

 

Q3. Are there any negative unintended consequences that you can identify that we have not yet discussed in relation to any of the recommendations made?

 

Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Scope Policy Paper

 

Background

  1. The 2016 FFRs consultation (BEIS, 2016) looked at the scope of the regulations to reflect how tastes and fashions in furniture had changed and recommended an exclusion list. This proposal was based on Stakeholder workshops in 2015 that agreed for a more holistic approach of everything that meets the definition of upholstered domestic furniture set out in the regulations to be included unless specifically excluded. This approach will be more easily understood by the production chain, retailers and enforcement agencies.

 

Policy aims

  1. In deciding on the scope of the new regulations our policy aims are to:
    1. Maintain or improve the current high level of fire safety for UK domestic upholstered furniture
    2. Enable a reduction in the use of chemical flame retardants (CFRs) on the grounds of health and the environment, i.e. toxicity of products
    3. Support businesses to bring new and innovative products to market

 

  1. The following section provides a summary of our recommendations, based on a more detailed policy analysis provided in Annex A.

 

Summary of policy recommendations

Definition of scope of regulations

  1. We take forward the agreed 2016 proposal of a single definition to cover all items in scope, supplemented by a list of exclusions.

 

  1. The single definition is proposed to be:
    1. These regulations cover any item of domestic furniture which is ordinarily intended for private use in a dwelling and comprises a cover fabric or cover material and a filling.

Exclusion based on whether washable

  1. We take forward the agreed 2016 proposal that sleeping bags and mattress protectors which can be put in a domestic washing machine be excluded from scope on the grounds that any chemical flame retardants (CFRs) added would be washed off in the process. Domestic washing machine to be defined as an appliance of drum capacity up to 13 Kg, for cleaning and rinsing of textiles using water which is principally designed for use within a domestic environment. The appliance may draw water from a cold and/or hot water supply and may also have a means of extracting excess water from the textiles.

 

  1. In addition, we propose that the above washing exclusion criterion be extended to all products. This is primarily because if an item (e.g. a removable cover material) has been identified on placement on the market as able to be washed in a domestic washing machine there remains no justification for treatment with CFRs. We therefore propose a requirement on suppliers to define what is washable on entering the market.

 

  1. We recommend that all products that would otherwise be in scope of the regulations but which are excluded through the washing exclusion criterion (and therefore on the exclusion list), should include a warning on their permanent labels to be ‘kept away from fire and potential ignition sources,’ with ‘ignition source’ being defined elsewhere in the regulations. In addition, the label should include the statement that the item does not meet the FFRs.

Scatter cushions and seat pads

  1. In line with 2016 proposals for scatter cushions and seat pads, we propose that on the basis of these articles presenting minimal fuel loads, they be excluded from the new regulations.

 

  1. We propose that in addition, these products be defined more clearly based on a standard set of dimensions for the final article, namely 60 cm x 60 cm x nominal thickness (which should be less than 60 cm).

 

  1. We also propose that this exclusion based on dimensions (and therefore indirectly to fuel load), should also be extended to apply to the seat pads of children’s highchairs/ seats. For all, we propose that a warning be included on their labels to be ‘kept away from fire and potential ignition sources,’ with ‘ignition source’ being defined elsewhere in the regulations.

Outdoor furniture

  1. We take forward the agreed 2016 proposal that outdoor furniture be excluded from the Regulations if (a) it is not suitable for indoor use in a home/ dwelling; and (b) it is clearly labelled to demonstrate that it is for outdoor use only as it does not comply with the Regulations.

 

  1. Further consideration is needed in relation to the form the labelling would take.

Second-hand furniture

  1. We take forward the agreed 2016 proposals that:
    1. Second-hand furniture offered for sale, or donated to charity, should bear the original permanent product label
    2. Furniture produced pre-1950 continues to be exempt from the Regulations
    3. Re-upholstered furniture continues to be required to meet the Regulations
    4. The Regulations continue not to apply to the export of furniture

 

  1. In addition, we propose the following clarifications:
    1. Pre-1950 furniture, if re-upholstered should be in scope of the Regulations
    2. The label must be re-attached if removed during the re-upholstery process. The end products must remain compliant with the ESRs
    3. The existing exemption for second-hand caravans be maintained

 

Baby products

  1. Based primarily on the aim to maintain the current standards of fire safety, we propose that baby products remain in scope of the new Regulations unless one of the following exclusion criteria applies:
    1. Washable in a domestic washing machine (would apply to removable covers) – indicates that application of CFRs would be pointless
    2. Not suitable for indoor use in a home (for example in the case of pushchairs or prams without removable carrycots) – indicates reduced fire risk
    3. A seat pad (in this case with the term extended to apply to the seat pads of children’s highchairs/ seats) no larger than 60 cm x 60 cm x nominal thickness, demonstrating limited fire load and limited combustible filling

 

  1. To address concerns over placement of ignition sources on a given item and concerns that those item intended for outdoor use only (e.g. pushchairs, prams without removable carrycots) enter into houses, where (a), (b) or (c) apply we propose that a warning be included on their labels to be ‘kept away from fire and potential ignition sources,’ with ‘ignition source’ being defined elsewhere in the regulations.

 

  1. Where (b) applies (e.g. pushchairs) we also propose it is clearly labelled to demonstrate that it is for outdoor use only as it does not comply with the Regulations.

 

  1. We propose that childcare articles which have more in common with mattresses (for example padded playpens) remain in scope and other children’s furniture will also continue to be within scope of the Regulations, subject to any other relevant exclusions as described above.

Research recommendation

  1. A literature review to look at the scope of the regulations and help answer inform our policy decisions.

 

 

Annex A: Policy analysis

Defining the scope of the new regulations

  1. The scope of the 1988 Regulations is presently defined by
    1. A list of what is included
    2. A list of exclusions

 

  1. Tastes and fashions in furniture have, however, changed over the past 30 years. There is now a lack of clarity as to what falls within the scope of the Regulations. Following discussions at the stakeholder workshops organised by BIS in July and August 2015, it was generally agreed that a more holistic, ‘everything is included unless it’s specifically excluded’ approach, which would require a much reduced supplementary list of exclusions, would be simpler and more easily understood by those in the production chain, retailers and enforcement agencies.

 

  1. Based on discussions at the workshops, the 2016 consultation proposed the following wording as a comprehensive description of what is considered in scope and fulfils the criteria outlined above:
  2. These regulations cover any item of domestic furniture which is ordinarily intended for private use in a dwelling and comprises a cover fabric and a filling.

 

  1. The proposal was that unless a product which meets this definition is specifically excluded, it will be within scope of the revised Regulations. In other words the scope of the new Regulations will be defined by:
    1. A comprehensive description of what is considered in scope
    2. A list of exclusions

 

  1. One business stakeholder suggested that the FFRs should refer to ‘cover material’ rather than ‘cover fabric’ as leather is not considered as a ‘fabric’. We therefore propose to amend the wording suggested above to:
  2. These regulations cover any item of domestic furniture which is ordinarily intended for private use in a dwelling and comprises a cover fabric or cover material and a filling.

 

  1. There was strong support from across the different stakeholder groups for revising the definition (BEIS, 2019). Those that commented said that this was on the basis that it gives greater clarity about the products that do not need to meet the requirements of the regulations.

 

  1. Clarity was requested on several points summarised below:
  2. What is meant by ‘private use in a dwelling’
  3. What is the position for furniture in non-domestic settings
  4. What is the position for furniture in low hazard contract settings such as buy to let (private rented sector), Air BnB and B&Bs.
  5. In terms of exclusions from scope, suggestions were made that all bedding, headboards and bedsteads, as well as trimmings and piping cord etc. should be on the list.
  6. In the case of a number of other products, it was considered that clarity is needed on whether they fall within scope or not.Examples include arm caps, pet beds, bean bags, motor homes and camper vans, wheelchairs and baby bouncer or swing seats.

What is meant by ‘private use in a dwelling’

  1. The primary purpose of the property for those residing/ dwelling in it should be for their own residence rather than as a source of income. See below for how this is interpreted in the case of furniture in low hazard contract settings.

What is the position for furniture in non-domestic settings

  1. The relevant fire safety legislation here is The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

What is the position for furniture in low hazard contract settings such as buy to let, Air BnB and B&Bs.

  1. Our policy position on those who need to apply the FFRs is to keep the new regulations applying to the same range of stakeholders/entities as in the FFRs. This is because no drivers for changing this aspect have been identified and any widening of the application may be perceived as increasing the regulatory burden. The only exception to this is where a discrepancy is identified between the FFRs and New Legislative Framework (NLF) that cannot be justified.

 

  1. Given the above policy position, we propose that the new regulations will apply to those (landlords, estate agents and letting agents) who are acting in the course of a business in letting a property within which furniture occurs – this encompasses any furniture included in accommodation let in the course of business, such as holiday homes and residential furnished lettings (including houses, flats and bed-sits).

 

  1. The interpretation of the 1993 amendment as explained in the FIRA guide (FIRA, 2011) is slightly ambiguous when consideration is given to Airbnb. The FIRA guide states “If the landlord views the primary purpose of the property as a source of income, rather than his own residence, then this would be considered a business activity and the landlord a supplier. As such the Regulations apply in this case.” It could be debated whether this would apply to someone occasionally letting their home on Airbnb. However, the actual wording in the amendment would seem to apply to Airbnb (and therefore the furniture within) under any circumstance and this is the interpretation favoured here.

In terms of exclusions from scope, suggestions were made that all bedding, headboards and bedsteads, as well as trimmings and piping cord etc. should be on the list.

  1. Bedding that is washable in a domestic washing machine would be excluded under the exclusion criterion described below.

 

  1. Headboards/trimming, piping, etc. are part of the overall product and the new approach aims to consider the safety of the product as a whole – these would therefore remain in scope.

In the case of a number of other products, it was considered that clarity is needed on whether they fall within scope or not.  Examples include arm caps, pet beds, bean bags, motor homes and camper vans, wheelchairs and baby bouncer or swing seats.

  1. The examples given will need to be addressed in more detail for the forthcoming consultation. A few examples are discussed below.

 

  1. We propose that the regulations continue not to apply to motor homes and camper vans. In this case the GPSR would continue to apply and as such, fire safety must be taken into consideration.

 

  1. Baby bouncers and swing seats fall within the baby product sector and are considered as part of that discussion, below.

 

  1. Ped beds may be either more like cushions with removable covers or like mattresses. An assessment of this type would need to take place to provide a definition of where these are included on the exclusion list in terms of their cover material.

 

  1. Arm caps that are washable in a domestic washing machine would be excluded under the exclusion criterion described below.

 

 

Recommendation 1

  1. To take forward the 2016 proposal of a single definition to cover all items in scope, supplemented by a list of exclusions.

Clarifications and exclusions

  1. The 1988 Regulations have a number of ‘grey areas’ including scatter cushions, seat pads, sleeping bags and washable mattress protectors. The 2016 consultation proposed to set out a definitive exclusions list to clarify the Regulations.

 

  1. The definitive removal from the Regulations’ scope of a range of products that are currently assumed in scope owing to ambiguity in interpretation should reduce the number of products which need to be tested, with a consequent reduction in the amount of CFRs in the home. These products would of course continue to be covered by the General Product Safety Regulations (GPSR) and any relevant British or European Standards.

 

  1. Products for possible exclusion were discussed at the 2015 workshops. In particular, some stakeholders argued strongly for the exclusion of certain baby products predominantly used outside the home (discussed further below). The 2016 consultation also set out proposals for the application of the Regulations to second-hand furniture, together with consideration of other ‘grey areas’ including outdoor furniture.

 

  1. Definitions of products on the exclusion list and of the exclusion criteria themselves, will need to be clear and unambiguous to avoid the definitions being interpreted variously, which could lead to non-compliance, whether deliberate or inadvertent.

Sleeping bags and mattress protectors

  1. The 2016 consultation proposed that sleeping bags and washable mattress protectors which can be put in a washing machine should be excluded because, in the course of the product’s lifetime, any CFRS are soon washed off, rendering the flame retardant treatment pointless. This is the same rationale currently used for duvets.

 

  1. There was general support across the stakeholder groups for excluding these products.

 

  1. Stakeholders made several suggestions and highlighted the following concerns:
  2. Clarity needed in relation to criteria ‘that can be washed’ given that any item can be washed by hand, or in a domestic or industrial washing machine. Can the capacity of the washing machine be specified and the largest product in a range be the one that must fit into it?
  3. Potential for items like sleeping bags and mattress protectors to come into contact with charging devices – they would benefit from a requirement for warning information and labelling to indicate that they should be kept away from fire and potential ignition sources.
  4. Should the exclusion be extended to any product falling within the scope of the regulations that can be washed in a domestic washing machine, e.g. padded fabric covers used in reclined cradles or highchairs?

Clarity on criteria ‘that can be washed’

  1. Given that any item can be washed by hand and that there is a significant difference in capacity between most domestic and industrial washing machines, we propose to define the term for what can be washed based on domestic washing machines.

 

  1. Definition of a domestic laundry appliance (referred to in this paper as a ‘washing machine’), may generally be defined as follows: “An appliance for cleaning and rinsing of textiles using water which is principally designed for use within a domestic environment. The appliance may draw water from a cold and/or hot water supply and may also have a means of extracting excess water from the textiles.”

 

  1. To be used as an exclusion criterion it is necessary to set a capacity limit on the size of washing machine within which a given product should be able to fit. A washing machine’s drum capacity is defined as the weight of dry clothing you can safely wash in a single cycle. This is generally slightly less than the amount that could physically fit into the drum.

 

  1. Washing machines with a drum capacity greater than 13 Kg are generally designed for commercial use. A cut-off point for the washing exclusion criteria could therefore be if an item can be washed in a domestic washing machine of drum capacity up to 13 Kg.

 

  1. The suggestion that it should be the largest product in a given range that should be the one that must fit into a domestic washing machine is sensible.

Requirement for additional warning information and labelling

  1. To ensure that awareness continues to be raised about fire safety, we propose to take forward recommendations from fire service stakeholders that products that would otherwise meet the definition for upholstered furniture but which are excluded through the washing exclusion criterion should include a warning on their labels to be ‘kept away from fire and potential ignition sources,’ with ‘ignition source’ being defined elsewhere in the regulations. Further consideration needs to be given to whether the labelling will occur on the permanent labels and whether additional labels are required for visibility.
  2. For additional clarity it is proposed that the label should include the statement that the item does not meet the FFRs.

Should the washing exclusion be extended to any product falling within the scope?

Pros

  1. Would reduce the needless application of CFRs

 

  1. Would provide consistency in application of this exclusion criteria.

Cons

  1. Would lead to the inclusion of a variety of baby products (e.g. padded fabric covers used in reclined cradles or highchairs). The fire service had concerns about mobile phones being placed in highchairs etc. These concerns could be addressed by appropriate labelling but is the question of whether to exclude the latter best dealt with as a separate matter?

 

  1. Clarity would be needed where only a cover material was washable but not the filling, such as in the case of some sofa cushion covers that can be removed and washed.

 

  1. Is there a risk of manufacturers manipulating their products to avoid the regulations?

 

Recommendation 2

  1. We recommend taking forward the 2016 proposal that sleeping bags and mattress protectors which can be put in a domestic washing machine be excluded from scope on the grounds that any chemical flame retardants (CFRs) added would be washed off in the process. Domestic washing machine to be defined as an appliance of drum capacity up to 13 Kg, for cleaning and rinsing of textiles using water which is principally designed for use within a domestic environment. The appliance may draw water from a cold and/or hot water supply and may also have a means of extracting excess water from the textiles.

 

  1. In addition we now propose that the above washing exclusion criterion be extended to all products primarily because if an item (e.g. a removable cover material) has been identified on placement on the market as able to be washed in the washing machine there remains no justification for treatment with CFRs. We therefore propose a requirement on suppliers to define what is washable on entering the market.

 

  1. Products that would otherwise be in scope of the regulations but which are excluded through the washing exclusion criterion (and therefore on the exclusion list), should include a warning on their permanent labels to be ‘kept away from fire and potential ignition sources,’ with ‘ignition source’ being defined elsewhere in the regulations. In addition, the label should include the statement that the item does not meet the FFRs.

 

Scatter cushions and seat pads

  1. A scatter cushion is usually defined as a small cushion which can be moved to any position in a room and is supplied separately; that is, it does not comprise an integral part of an item of furniture. In the same way, a seat pad is generally accepted as being a small cushion intended to be used with, for example, a wooden kitchen or dining chair.

 

  1. The 1988 Regulations require that only the filling materials for such items must satisfy the relevant ignition test.

 

  1. We propose that, in line with the 2016 consultation proposal that scatter cushions and seat pads be removed from the scope of the new regulations on the basis of their limited fuel load, and that these products will be more clearly defined.

 

  1. The 1988 Regulations do not offer a definition of either item, but it is commonly accepted that a scatter cushion has dimensions of less than 60 cm x 60 cm x normal product thickness. A seat pad is accepted as having dimensions no bigger than 30 cm x 30 cm x 1 cm thick. Our proposal is that the revised Regulations will formalise the definition of a product which should be outside of scope of the Regulations.

 

  1. Most respondents to the 2016 proposal agreed in principle that only the filling materials for such items must satisfy the relevant ignition test and that these products should be specifically defined in the FFRs. In the new Regulations this corresponds to the item as a whole being outside of scope to meet the essential fire safety requirements.

 

  1. In addition, feedback was provided to the 2016 consultation, which can be summarised as follows in light of the new approach using essential fire safety requirements:
  2. Many suggested that there should be a single set of dimensions covering scatter cushions and seat pads, with the most commonly proposed being 60 cm x 60 cm x nominal thickness (which should be less than 60 cm).
  3. An alternative volume-based approach was suggested by a small number of business stakeholders.
  4. Clarity was requested on whether cushions supplied with an upholstered item should be in scope or not.
  5. Clarity was requested on whether the term ‘seat pad’ should extend to the seat pads in children’s highchairs/seats and whether they should therefore also be excluded.

Single set of dimensions covering scatter cushions and seat pads

Pros

  1. Would improve clarity and simplicity of applying the criterion.

 

  1. Should in theory achieve an analogous outcome to the volume-based approach as the dimensions do define a maximum volume and the contribution of the cover material to that is nominal.

 

  1. This approach should be straight forward to self-certify – important because there are no third parties that would carry out such testing and therefore this requirement would have to be self-certified.

 

  1. Re-upholstery stakeholders provided feedback that setting the dimensions of seat pads to 30cm x 30cm x 1cm is unrealistic and that most would be at least 45cm x 45cm x 2.5cm (OPSS, 2020). This adds weight to the argument to bring both categories together under a single set of dimensions.

Cons

  1. There will always be ambiguity close to the cut-off points of exclusion criteria such as these – would be helpful to have the evidence on which the proposed dimensions is based on. I.e. where is the ‘commonly accepted’ view from?

Volume-based approach for an exclusion criterion

Pros

  1. This makes theoretical sense as it is the amount of combustible filling that determines the risk.

Cons

  1. The filling may be compressed to varying degrees leading to complications over how to define – would this be by density/weight or firmness? This exclusion criteria would have to be self-certified so should be as straightforward and repeatable as possible.

Whether cushions supplied with an upholstered item should be in scope

  1. This would depend on the dimensions of the cushions and whether these are within the relevant exclusion criterion, having more in common with scatter cushions/seat pads.

Whether the term ‘seat pad’ should include seat pads in children’s highchairs/ seats

Pros

  1. This exclusion would be in keeping with both the dimensions associated with the proposed exclusion of scatter cushions and the washing exclusion criterion. Highchairs can come with removable covers and where this is the case the washing exclusion criterion should, for consistency, apply to the part that is machine washable.

Cons

  1. Some fire service stakeholders highlighted these items can be involved in the development of fires and can come into contact with charging devices etc. This could, however, be addressed through the provision of appropriate warning information and labelling.

Recommendation 3

  1. In line with 2016 proposals for scatter cushions and seat pads, we propose that on the basis of these articles presenting minimal fuel loads, they be excluded from the new regulations.

 

  1. We propose that in addition, these products be defined more clearly based on a standard set of dimensions for the final article, namely 60 cm x 60 cm x nominal thickness (which should be less than 60 cm).

 

  1. We also propose that this exclusion based on dimensions (and therefore indirectly to fuel load), should also be extended to apply to the seat pads of children’s highchairs/ seats. For all, we propose that a warning be included on their labels to be ‘kept away from fire and potential ignition sources,’ with ‘ignition source’ being defined elsewhere in the regulations.

 

Outdoor furniture

  1. Currently, the Regulations apply to outdoor furniture which is suitable for use in dwellings, but do not apply to garden furniture if it is (a) not suitable for use in dwellings (e.g. if it could not physically be brought indoors), (b) is non-upholstered (e.g., deck chairs), or (c) consists only of cover fabric (e.g., sunshades or canopies).

 

  1. In practice, however, the treatment of outdoor furniture varies geographically and between manufacturers, leading to inconsistency and confusion. In an effort to resolve this, and following discussions at the 2015 stakeholder workshops, BEIS proposed that outdoor furniture be excluded from the Regulations if (a) it is not suitable for use inside the home; and (b) it is clearly labelled to demonstrate that it is for outdoor use only as it does not comply with the Regulations. The Regulations themselves would remain high level, but we would expect the finer details of this proposal to be agreed between industry and Trading Standards to ensure consistency.

 

  1. Most stakeholders agreed in principle with the proposal.

 

  1. Stakeholders did, however, highlight several concerns, which are discussed below.

Is the meaning of ‘not suitable for use in a home/ dwelling’ too open to interpretation in a way that would lead to inconsistency?

  1. Could expand the definition to either ‘not suitable for indoor use in a home/ dwelling’ or ‘not suitable for use inside the home’.

Even if products are labelled ‘for outdoor use only’ or ‘not suitable for use in a dwelling’, is there a risk that they will be used indoors?

  1. There will always be a risk but this potential issue crosses into the realm of personal lifestyle choices, for which regulations cannot be answerable/ responsible.

Is there a significant risk that items that could be used in a dwelling will be marked for ‘outdoor use only’ as a way of circumventing the regulatory requirements?

  1. This concern requires further investigation.

Should the labelling be permanent so that if the item is sold as second-hand, it will be clear to the buyer that there is a danger of fire if the furniture is taken inside?

  1. This question needs further investigation – in theory this sounds reasonable but there is a question over whether all outdoor furniture is amenable to a permanent label. Further consideration needs to be given to whether the labelling will occur on the permanent labels and whether additional labelling is required for visibility.

 

Recommendation 4

  1. We take forward the 2016 proposal that outdoor furniture be excluded from the Regulations if (a) it is not suitable for indoor use in a home/ dwelling; and (b) it is clearly labelled to demonstrate that it is for outdoor use only as it does not comply with the Regulations.

 

  1. Further consideration is needed in relation to the form the labelling would take.

 

Second-hand furniture

  1. Second-hand furniture produced after 1950 is currently within scope of the 1988 Regulations and subject to the same requirements as new furniture. However, in practical terms, this is enforced by ensuring that furniture offered for sale as second-hand, or second-hand furniture donated to charity, bears the original permanent label.

 

  1. The 2016 consultation proposed that the revised Regulations reaffirm this existing practice by making it a requirement for second-hand furniture to bear the relevant permanent label which would have been applicable at the time when the product was first supplied (i.e. the ‘current’ label for furniture originally supplied prior to the new Regulations coming into force, or the ‘new’ label for furniture originally supplied after that date). In addition, second-hand products would continue to be subject to the requirements of the General Product Safety Regulations. Pre-1950 furniture would continue to be exempt from the Regulations.

 

  1. Stakeholders generally supported the requirement for second-hand furniture to bear the relevant permanent label.

 

  1. Stakeholders responded to the 2016 consultation with the following feedback:
    1. To ensure labels are not removed it was suggested that
      1. The required wording includes ‘this product cannot be resold if the label has been removed’
      2. There should be a requirement for the label to be attached in an inconspicuous place that the consumer does not see in normal use to prevent removal on aesthetic grounds.
    2. A key concern raised by business stakeholders related to re-upholstered items as the original labels are removed during the re-upholstery process. It was considered that if this is not recognised, the requirement could potentially destroy this sector.  There was also concern that the requirement will lead to more second-hand furniture ending up in landfill.
    3. There was a request for the existing exemption for second-hand caravans to be maintained – an example where furniture that already complies with the current regulations should be exempt.

Ensuring labels are not removed

  1. To address concerns relating to removal of the permanent labels we propose that labels be attached in an inconspicuous place so that the consumer is not likely to remove on aesthetic grounds. This will assist with second-hand use.

Re-upholstered furniture

  1. To maintain the current high fire safety standards, we recommend that the re-upholstery sector should remain in scope with the application of relevant exclusion criteria.

 

  1. We propose that the label must be re-attached if removed during the re-upholstery process, The end products must remain compliant with the ESRs.

 

  1. Several issues have been raised in relation to scope for re-upholstered furniture. For example, in relation to loose covers. The feedback from sector (OPSS, 2020) is that customers want loose covers to a) to take off and wash when dirty, b) cover old/faded original fabric. If a cover is washable in a domestic washing machine, then the washable exclusion criterion (see above) would apply.

 

  1. An additional issue raised by re-upholsterer stakeholders (OPSS 2020) was that pre-1950 furniture (with the frame determining the age) should be in scope once re-upholstered because, when it is re-upholstered with new materials, it presents the same level of hazard as post-1950 furniture. This ambiguity should be clarified in the new Regulations.

 

Caravans

  1. The existing exemption for second-hand caravans will be maintained, providing an example where furniture that already complies with the current regulations should be exempt. Furniture in new caravans will continue to be in scope of the regulations.

 

Recommendation 5

  1. We take forward the 2016 proposal that second-hand furniture offered for sale, or donated to charity, should remain in scope and bear the original permanent label. Furniture produced pre-1950 to continue to be exempt from the Regulations.
  2. Propose this continues to be required to meet the regulations subject to the relevant exclusion criteria.

 

Baby products

  1. Currently, the Regulations apply to a range of baby products, including pushchairs, prams and carry cots. However, there is a good argument that inclusion of these products does not actually contribute to the wider objectives of the Regulations – namely reduction in the risk of serious injuries or loss of life due to house fires – for two reasons.

 

  1. Firstly, many of the products in question do not pose the same risks as upholstered furniture because of the way they are used. For example, prams and pushchairs are predominantly used (and intended to be used) outside the home and are only brought inside on an exceptional basis. Moreover, even when inside the home, they would not be exposed to the same risks of accidental ignition (for example from smoking materials).

 

  1. Secondly, even if ignited, the products contain a much lower fuel load than other upholstered items, and therefore any fire would be less likely to spread.

 

  1. As well as the risk of house fires being low from these items, the risk of fire-related injury to the child themselves would also be low since many of the products in question are not intended to be used with the child left unattended. Moreover, these products are already covered by the GPSR and robust standards for childcare products, which include a requirement for fire resistance.

 

  1. The 2016 consultation proposed to remove from the scope of the Regulations those childcare items covered by standards BS EN1888 (wheeled child conveyances – pushchairs, prams, etc.) and BS EN1466 (carry cots and stands). Childcare articles which have more in common with mattresses (for example padded playpens) would be subject to the same requirements as mattresses (i.e. filling test only), while other children’s furniture such as highchairs would continue to be within scope of the Regulations as a whole, subject to any other relevant exclusions.

 

  1. This proposal could bring significant savings by reducing testing costs and administrative burdens for manufacturers of these items, without undermining the objective of the legislation. Moreover, this proposal could help to address concerns raised about the use of CFRs in children’s products.

 

  1. Overall, there was general support for the 2016 proposals, particularly from businesses. Some stakeholders, however, particularly from the fire and rescue services, raised the following concerns:
  2. These concerns largely related to the exclusion of carry-cots and moses baskets as young infants are often left unattended in these and they can be placed adjacent to heaters and combustible equipment or can have lights/ monitors attached
  3. Clarification was requested on whether the products are excluded per se or whether the exclusion relates only to the cover fabrics.
  4. Clarification was also requested on whether the mattresses in carry-cots and moses baskets are within scope or not, and on whether car seats are excluded.
  5. With regard to padded playpens, which were proposed to remain in scope, questions were raised about whether the regulations would apply only to the base of the playpen or to other padded areas such as upper rails.
  6. Baby products businesses suggested the exclusion should be extended to products such as reclined cradles, cots, cribs, cradles, children’s beds, baby bouncers, swings, travel cots and similar articles; highchairs, infant swings, chair mounted seats, walkers, stationary activity centres, inclined sleep products, floor seats etc.

 

  1. BEIS ministers have expressed that baby products remain in scope.

 

  1. Considering the above proposals and feedback in light of the proposed new approach, there are three broad options to consider in relation to baby products and the scope of the regulations. Discussion of whether baby products should have their own ESR(s) if in scope of the regulations is covered in the ESR policy paper. So in the following discussion we will only cover whether or not baby products should remain in scope.

Option 1: all baby products stay within scope, notwithstanding the application of other relevant exclusions

Pros
  1. This option would maintain the current high level of fire safety.

 

  1. BEIS ministers have expressed that childcare items covered by standards BS EN1888 (wheeled child conveyances – pushchairs, prams, etc.) and BS EN1466 (carry cots and stands) remain in scope, so this option would have the advantage of previously expressed political will.
Cons
  1. Babies have been singled out as particularly vulnerable to the health risks associated with CFRs owing to their hand-to-mouth behaviours, increased breathing rates and proximity to materials containing CFRs for prolonged periods – so depending on which ESR proposals are taken forward this may not be the best option for maximising a reduction in CFR use in baby products.

 

Option 2: baby products stay within scope, apart from childcare items covered by standards BS EN1888 (wheeled child conveyances – pushchairs, prams, etc.) and BS EN1466 (carry cots and stands) and notwithstanding any other exclusions

Pros
  1. There was general stakeholder support for this 2016 proposal, particularly from businesses.
Cons
  1. Fire and rescue services, raised concerns, largely related to the exclusion of carry-cots and moses baskets as young infants are often left unattended in these and they can be placed adjacent to heaters and combustible equipment or can have lights/ monitors attached.

 

  1. The exclusion of childcare items covered by BS EN188 may be better served under the more general exclusion criterion that is described above for outdoor furniture, i.e. out of scope if (a) it is not suitable for indoor use in a home/ dwelling; and (b) it is clearly labelled to demonstrate that it is for outdoor use only as it does not comply with the Regulations. In the case of these products a permanent label may be best.

 

  1. Many prams are essentially carrycots on wheels and come with detachable carrycots. In addition, more manufacturers are making carrycots that are suitable for overnight sleeping. This makes an exclusion based on BS EN188 less reliable as the grouping of products cannot necessarily be equally grouped in terms of analogous fire risk.

 

  1. More manufacturers are making carrycots that are suitable for overnight sleeping and therefore an exclusion of products covered by BS EN1466 would not be in keeping with a retention of childcare articles which have more in common with mattresses.

 

  1. Need to clearly define/explain why additional products are being excluded (e.g. wheeled conveyances and washable items).

 

  1. BEIS ministers have expressed that childcare items covered by standards BS EN1888 (wheeled child conveyances – pushchairs, prams, etc.) and BS EN1466 (carry cots and stands) remain in scope (although it was stated that government would review and consult again on removing childcare articles covered by BS EN1888 (wheeled child conveyances) and BS EN1466 (carry cots and stands) due to lack of consensus at the time).

Option 3: remove baby products from scope and rely on GPSR

Pros
  1. A likely reduction in the use of CFRs.
Cons
  1. Reduced fire safety levels – considering our policy aim to maintain or improve the current fire safety standards, this provides a strong argument for retaining baby products within scope of the regulations as GPSR do not set as stringent fire safety standards.

 

  1. There has been no political will expressed for this option by BEIS ministers in the past.

Options assessment

  1. Based on a consideration of the pros and cons for each of the three options, we recommend taking forward option 1 and examining in further detail how the various exclusions would apply.

 

  1. The exclusion criteria describe above and based on (a) washing in a domestic washing machine, (b) not suitable for indoor use in a home; and (c) seat pads of a size demonstrating limited fire load.

Recommendation 6

  1. Based primarily on the aim to maintain the current standards of fire safety, we propose that baby products remain in scope of the new Regulations unless one of the following exclusion criteria applies:
    1. Washable in a domestic washing machine (would apply to removable covers) – indicates that application of CFRs would be pointless
    2. Not suitable for indoor use in a home (for example in the case of pushchairs or prams without removable carrycots) – indicates limited fire load
    3. A seat pad (in this case with the term extended to apply to the seat pads of children’s highchairs/ seats) no larger than 60 cm x 60 cm x nominal thickness, demonstrating limited fire load and limited combustible filling

 

  1. To address concerns over placement of ignition sources on a given item and concerns that those item intended for outdoor use only (e.g. pushchairs, prams without removable carrycots) enter into houses, where (a), (b) or (c) apply we propose that a warning be included on their labels to be ‘kept away from fire and potential ignition sources,’ with ‘ignition source’ being defined elsewhere in the regulations.

 

  1. Where (b) applies (e.g. pushchairs) we also propose it is clearly labelled to demonstrate that it is for outdoor use only as it does not comply with the Regulations.

 

  1. We propose that childcare articles which have more in common with mattresses (for example padded playpens) remain in scope and other children’s furniture will also continue to be within scope of the Regulations, subject to any other relevant exclusions as described above.

 

Additional research for future consideration

  1. Review whether it is only machine washing which removes CFRs? What occurs with other hand-applied treatments?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

BEIS (2018) Response to Consultation on Upgrading the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-responds-to-furniture-consultation

 

BEIS (2016) Consultation on Updating the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/furniture-and-furnishing-fire-safety-regulations-proposed-changes-2016

 

FIRA (2011) Fire Safety of Furniture and Furnishings in the home. A Guide to the UK Regulations. FIRA International Ltd.

 

OPSS (2020) New Approach to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations – stakeholder engagement workshops; February 2020, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations team. Unpublished report.

 

 

 

Peter Wragg
Peter Wragg
pjw@fretwork.org.uk
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