On January 19th, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously, 4-0, to advance its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) on a mandatory safety standard for Clothing Storage Unit tip-overs. The text in the CPSC proposal was initially published in July 2021, but the Commission did not receive a staff briefing until December 2021. This vote officially starts the rulemaking process, with the rule being published in the Federal Register in early February. There is a 75-day comment period that will be open for HFA members and the organization to provide critical input to the proposed standard. The general timeline for a CPSC rulemaking is difficult to predict as the Commission is required to submit an acceptable cost-benefit analysis as well as consider voluntary standard alternatives. Going through the normal procedure, we would expect this process to take multiple years.
The CPSC proposal prescribes a series of complicated tests for manufacturers to perform on clothing storage units for them to be imported into, produced in, and sold in the United States. It also includes a hangtag rating system that is very difficult for retailers and consumers to understand. During the January 19th vote, the CPSC approved an amendment that would reduce the implementation timeline from the initial 180 days down to 30 days. Given the complexities involved, this represents a significant shift. HFA is planning to submit a set of comments on the technical and practical aspects of the rule. We encourage our members to contact the HFA team to express their input which we can include in those comments.
There is a separate track for this issue in Congress – the STURDY Act. This legislation would provide an expedited timeline for the CPSC to enact a mandatory tip-over standard within one year. Currently, there is a voluntary standard through ASTM, which has been in place for 20+ years with industry and consumer/parent group input. There are potential updates to the current ASTM voluntary standard, which are also being discussed.
In recent weeks, many stakeholders have been engaged with congressional staff on potential revisions to the STURDY Act. This is a critical issue for the furniture industry moving forward and impacts all levels of the value chain from supplier to manufacturer, retailer, and consumer.
We expect continued activity on this issue, both in Congress and the CPSC, during the 75 day comment period and will update the HFA membership on any progress and next steps.