This week in the BFC writes to government with concerns
This week in the media, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (safety) Regulations 1988, as amended (FFFSR) – and also regarding flame retardant chemicals used in upholstered furniture and beds.
The British Furniture Confederation (BFC) has always said that the industry’s first and foremost concern is for people’s safety and has long been pressing government for reforms to the current legislation and standards, in order to simplify testing, iron out anomalies and improve compliance, while also helping to reduce the amount of fire retardant chemicals needed for compliance.
It is extremely disappointing that no progress has been made in over a year, after the government announced it needed time to consider the many conflicting responses to its proposed changes to the current standards.
The BFC opposed the government’s proposals for amending the standards because it felt that they would fail to deliver the desired result of maintaining fire safety levels while also minimising the use of flame retardant chemicals. In an effort to kick-start the process of much needed reform, the BFC submitted its own proposals in July, after consulting widely. To date we have had only a standard response acknowledging their receipt.
We will be reiterating our call to BEIS to address this increasingly contentious issue, especially in the light of more recent claims questioning the overall effectiveness of the standards and potential harm to health of FR chemicals.
The Government urgently needs to call a halt to escalating scare mongering by announcing a fresh programme of robust research and evaluation into these claims. Everyone affected - the furniture industry, fire officers, consumers - needs and deserves proper clarity and effective, enforceable regulations and standards which protect people from the potential dangers caused by both fire and harmful chemicals.
Meanwhile the industry will continue to obey UK law by meeting the current UK regulations on flammability and following the requirements of REACH regulations regarding use of any chemicals to meet those standards.
1. The British Furniture Confederation is an executive body chaired by Jonathan Hindle and made up of representatives from the UK’s leading furniture, furnishings and bed trade associations:
- British Contract Furnishing Association (BCFA)
- British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM)
- Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA)
- Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA)
- National Bed Federation (NBF)
- Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers (WCFM)
It also has affiliations with other trade associations including: the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF) and Anti-Copying In Design (ACID).
2. The British Furniture Confederation (BFC) maintains regular dialogue with Government and other influential stakeholders in an effort to ensure that its policies and initiatives support a thriving furniture, furnishings and bed sector. Many of its activities are done in partnership with the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group (APPFIG), chaired by Stephen McPartland MP.
3. UK furniture, bed and furnishings manufacturing is a substantial industry. According to 2015 Government statistics its 8,113 companies contribute £11.1 billion to the country’s GDP (10% up on previous year), which equates to 2.2% of manufacturing output. Over a quarter of a million jobs are dependent on the success of the industry, with 107,000 in manufacturing alone. There are 150,000 in specialist furniture and furnishings retail and wholesale, 3,000 in repair, 10,000 in leasing, plus a proportion of the 52,000 registered specialist designers. Consumer expenditure on furniture and furnishings equates to £16.2 billion per year. In addition to this there is an unquantified value of product entering the contract and office markets.