16 Sep BEIS/OPSS MEETING
A meeting was held at the offices of OPSS on 5th September 2019.
FRETWORK was represented by Claire Kelly, Wayne Aaron and Roger White.
There report is very interesting as is reproduced in full below:
BEIS – OPSS 5/09/19
Attended by: Wayne Aaron, Claire Kelly, Roger White.
On Thursday 5thSeptember we had the opportunity to meet with Kate Parsons and Sean Valoo .
The initial purpose of the meeting was to ensure that we had an opportunity to counter some of the claims which had been made at the EACOM Enquiry. As per the last Fretwork meeting at Clarkson Textiles, Wayne had done a fantastic job of bringing together some critical information from different government / fire department reports and we wanted to ensure these were acknowledged in any decision making relating to the FFR’s going forward. We also wanted to reiterate the important improvements that our industry had made, with the progress of the FRETWORK Code of Good Practice and the establishment of the coordinated partnership agreement with Trading Standards.
We spent time presenting the information from a number of the reports which Wayne had previously presented to Fretwork, in direct counter to specific statements made in the enquiry. Particularly, we emphasized the comparisons made between the UK and New Zealand and presented the New Zealand Government ‘Product Safety Policy Statement for foam filled furniture’ – 17thJuly ’19* which explains the introduction of a voluntary compliance with FR safety regulation, citing BS5852 as one of the appropriate regulations to meet the requirement for safe furniture, alongside AS/NZS 3744 1&2 and EN1021 1&2.
We also showed them the following video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/8DCAHEVXHvUcited on a NZ trading standards document.
With regard to comments made in the Enquiry about ‘Toxic Chemicals’ we reiterated the point that we work under strict UK chemical controls in the form of REACH and explained in basic terms, the reason why we must use chemicals which perform in a particular way in order to meet the requirements of our current industry regulation. They accepted our explanation and offered no concerns.
We also discussed the current state of play with the proposed changes to the FFR’s. Kate Parsons assured us that MP Kelly Tolhurst has no appetite to reduce the level of FR safety on furniture. They mentioned plans to bring furniture under the General Product Safety Regulation (GPSR) which require all products to be safe in their normal or reasonably foreseeable usage, with enforcement authorities having the powers to take appropriate action when this obligation isn’t met. Where an industry has specific regulations setting out safety requirements and these crossover the GPSR, the industry specific legislation will usually take precedence. I am not familiar with the different levels of compliance in these regulations, but Kate Parsons mentioned that Furniture would be on the BLUE list, which would list specific safety requirements eg – item should not readily combust.
Kate also touched on the introduction of ‘product technical files’. We can expect that the current FFR’s will suffice in meeting the criteria for proving fabric component safety and traceability. Hopefully, the Fretwork Code of Good Practice will become key in offering recognised processing standards for the purpose of the technical files.
We were informed that there is currently a report being commissioned into the ‘Characteristics of Modern Day Furniture’, which we can expect to be concluded in the next few weeks. I am not sure who has been commissioned to complete it. Kate Parsons suggested that, based on the findings of this report, discussions are likely to be opened with BSI and relevant parties with the intention of updating the FFR’s. Nothing would change before all relevant impact assessments have been completed. There will also be opportunities for stakeholder meetings to take place, to which we would be invited. She suggested that we could expect this process to last around two years, and as such, we could assume that we will continue with the current regulatory framework during this time.