By Melissa Miller Proctor
On March 25, 2016, manufacturers and importers of adult apparel products comprised of low-risk fabrics designated as such under the Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA), will no longer be required to generate Certificates of Conformity required under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). The CPSIA requires that manufacturers and importers of products that are subject to a CPSC rule certify, based on a test or reasonable testing program, that their products comply with that rule. Adult apparel is subject to the flammability standards established under the FFA; however, as noted above, the FFA also provides a list of fabrics that have been determined to be low-risk because they consistently satisfy the applicable flammability standards. Those fabrics are as follows:
- Plain surface fabrics, regardless of fiber content, weighing 2.6 ounces per square yard or more;
- All fabrics (both plain surface and raised-fiber surface textiles), regardless of weight, made entirely from any one or in combination of the following fibers: acrylic; modacrylic; nylon; olefin; polyester; or, wool.
However, the CPSIA still required General Certificates of Conformity even for low-risk adult apparel products comprised of the fabrics identified above. Accordingly, the CPSC decided to eliminate this unnecessary “red tape,” in the words of CPSC Commissioner Joe Mohorovic, and therefore unanimously approved a new statement of policy on February 24, 2016 in which the Agency will not pursue compliance or enforcement actions against companies if they fail to certify, issue, or make a certificate available to the CPSC for adult wearing apparel made from one of the FFA-listed fabrics that comply with the flammability requirements.
Note that this compliance and enforcement policy will not apply to adult apparel products that do not satisfy this new rule, and civil and/or criminal penalties may be assessed in the event of any misrepresentation or omission. Further, certificates of conformity will continue to be required for adult apparel that is subject to testing requirements, and these changes are not intended to apply to children’s apparel.
This change in policy results from the CPSC’s recognition that: (1) these fabrics are inherently safe; (2) requiring companies to certify products comprised of these fabrics provides no additional safety benefits; and, (3) the cost to industry of having to generate compliance certificates for such products is estimated to be roughly $250 million each year.