Updating our prior discussion on California’s new labeling law regarding flame retardants in furniture, the California Bureau of Electronics & Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BEARHFTI) has issued industry guidance and an FAQ expressing the Bureau’s understanding of the requirements.

The industry guidance is brief, confirming that the labeling law becomes effective January 1, 2015 (consistent with California’s new flammability requirements) and provides the following examples of labels:blog photo

The FAQ is more detailed, providing guidance on questions regarding scope, timing, documentation, and labeling details, with key points set forth below.

Specifically, the FAQ:

  • states that the requirements does not apply to outdoor upholstered furniture or mattresses (consistent with the flammability standard’s exclusion for these products).
  • confirms that it applies only to covered products manufactured on and after January 1, 2015.
  • explains that manufacturers/suppliers can meet the documentation requirement by retaining written statements or test results attesting to the existence of chemical flame retardants, and must be able to provide this documentation within 30 days of a request from the Bureau.
  • provides details on font size, label size, language location, and attachment, including reinforcing that the label must be permanently attached to the covered product.
  • confirms that for products containing flame retardants, Proposition 65 warnings (if required) must be separate from the flammability labeling.

Notably, neither the guidance nor FAQ address liability for importing, distributing, or selling products without the label language. Absent new information, we continue to expect the Bureau to interpret SB 1019 as prohibiting retailers from selling covered products in California without appropriate labeling based on the general compliance provision in Business & Professions Code § 19072.

The Bureau may also promulgate regulations requiring more direct compliance from retailers or otherwise issue agency guidance discussing retailer obligations.

The general enforcement provisions for upholstered furniture authorize the Attorney General and district, county, and city attorneys to obtain injunctive relief and civil penalties of up to US$2,500 per violation.