CPSC chairman addresses AHFA board at annual event

WASHINGTON – Alexander Hoehn-Saric, chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, addressed members of the American Home Furnishings Alliance board of directors during the group’s spring government affairs meeting in Washington D.C. earlier this month.

The government affairs meeting is an annual gathering designed to bring AHFA board members up to date on legislative and regulatory issues impacting the home furnishings industry. In addition, attendees receive an overview of the current political climate and its potential to impact both industry operations and consumer demand.

Hoehn-Saric was confirmed as chair of CPSC in October 2021. Since then, “things have moved to a much better place” with regard to furniture stability, he told AHFA board members during their opening session on May 14.

Congress passed the STURDY Act in December 2022 and, in April 2023, CPSC adopted ASTM F2057-23 as the new mandatory stability standard for clothing storage furniture required by STURDY. Hoehn-Saric thanked AHFA for its efforts in support of both STURDY and ASTM F2057-23, which previously was a voluntary safety standard.

As the agency now focuses on enforcement of the new federal standard for clothing storage furniture, online platforms present a challenge, Hoehn-Saric said. While these platforms are “good” about taking products identified as hazardous off their sites, the same or similar products often turn up under a different name a short time later.

Hoehn-Saric said the agency wants to hold third-party sellers accountable for the products they sell, noting that consumers purchasing products online expect those products to have the same safety assurances as products purchased in stores.

Nine U.S. companies represented on AHFA’s board of directors have bedroom furniture within their product mix; of these, three have undergone a CPSC compliance audit since January. All three had an executive at this month’s board meeting, and all three thanked Hoehn-Saric for the opportunity to showcase their compliance efforts to CPSC enforcement officials.

But the board asked the chair what other actions the agency is taking to enforce the new stability standard and to identify non-compliant products and companies. In addition to visiting manufacturers, Hoehn-Saric said the agency is beefing up its inspections at the ports and plans to visit retail stores this year, as well.

The AHFA, based in High Point, represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus about 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide.

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