Time to Wake Up

Carole Sloan, February 14, 2005

Well, it was a good feeling not to be almost alone at the update workshop on what's happening vis-a-vis flammability regs last week.

Looking back a year it was yours truly, another journalist and perhaps half a dozen companies — max — listening to an update on the subject that will impact every home textiles company more than anything else.

So to see representatives from about double the number of those companies was encouraging — but hardly what one might call a significant representation of the supplier base of the home textiles world.

And listening to those attending the update session, it was clear that few in this business have been listening to, or reading, any of the communiques that have been sent out by the HFPA over the past several years.

Denial is one thing. But if you are involved in any way — supplier, manufacturer, distributor, retailer — in creating anything that looks or feels like a sheet, bed pillow, decorative pillow, comforter, mattress pad, quilt or blanket, then your livelihood depends on waking up now.

The federal Consumer Products Safety Commission is about to issue a proposal for all the above items concerning flammability regulations. They are asking for comments from anyone in the business. But there's a small hitch. The deadline for comments is March 14 — this year!

The CPSC folks want to know what impact any flammability regs will have on your business — from a cost perspective, from a health vantage point, from the technology involved in the testing and how the testing needs to be developed.

As it looks now, the HFPA is the lone voice in the wilderness trying to balance the apparent drive for regs and the way these regs will emerge — and it's working without the technical input that only the marketplace can provide.

This is a real challenge and one that supersedes global sourcing — which also will be a major issue in the reg compliance, as well as any other industry issues.

If you all don't make your views known, don't complain in the next year or so when the regs come down — and they are not what could have been.

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