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The Importance Of Flammability Testing For Mattresses and Upholstery

The Importance Of Flammability Testing For Mattresses and Upholstery

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (which were later amended in 1989 and 1993)establish that domestic upholstery, mattresses, and furnishings not made out of naturally fire-resistant material should be chemically treated to enhance their fire resistance. Accredited labs in the UK that offer flammability testing services, including curtains, mattresses, and drapes fire testing, are used by many manufacturers of upholstery to determine fire resistance levels. Other than upholstery, though, children’s sleepwear is also something that the UK government mandates must be checked for fire resistance. Simply put, anything made out of flammable material that can potentially be a fire hazard has to be tested for fire resistance. So flammability testing services keep people safe in their homes and protect upholstery and clothing manufacturers from lawsuits.

Here’s why flammability testing for mattresses and upholstery is important.

A Green Couch

1. Reduce injuries and fatalities from fires in homes

The total number of deaths that occurred due to the outbreak of fires in UK homes was on the rise from the 1960s till the 1980s. From 400 deaths per year at the start of 1960 to over 700 by the time the 1970s came. Although there was somewhat of a decrease in fire-related deaths in the 1980s, the number of casualties due to fire was still worrying for both the government and the general public.

To address this problem, the government introduced the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989, 1993, and 2010). Before this, there had been plenty of material published instructing families how to avoid incidents of fire at home. However, no policies had been created to address this issue.

Research commissioned by the government indicates that due to these regulations, about 712 deaths have been avoided from the time the safety regulations were approved till the year 2000.

2. Main elements of the UK fire safety regulations 1988

The six main points in the regulations stipulate that:

  • Filling materials used in upholstery must meet ignition requirements outlined in the document
  • Upholstery must be resistant against cigarettes
  • Every article of furniture should have a display label at the time of sale
  • A permanent label should be attached to each new article of furniture
  • Upholstery covers need to be match resistant
  • The primary supplier of domestic upholstery to the United Kingdom must keep records for at least the past five years in order to demonstrate compliance with the country’s safety standards

These rules apply to each party involved at any step in the upholstery supply chain, right from those who supply the raw material to those who supply the finished product that end-users purchase for their homes, such as mattresses, curtains, and drapes. From product manufacturers to retailers to importers of upholstered furniture, the regulations apply to everyone involved in the production and sale of these items. And that’s not all – they also hold landlords, property managers, and the like responsible for the safety of their tenants. Landlords must not knowingly furnish their property with upholstery that does not comply with UK safety standards.

A Couch With Cushions

3. What happens in case of non-compliance with the regulations?

If an importer, landlord or retailer is found guilty of not complying with the safety regulations, they could face fines, be prosecuted by the authorities or by their tenants, have their business shut down, or have their products recalled from stores all over the country.

Not only can fires caused by flammable upholstery be fatal, but they can also lead to many respiratory problems that can last for life. As such, it is necessary that manufacturers, retailers, and importers of upholstery should ensure that they are incomplete in compliance with the UK’s safety regulations.

Flammability testing services provided by an accredited facility ensure no fires are started in people’s bedrooms or living rooms. To date, fires that have started in British houses have contributed to over 73 per cent of deaths in the UK. Upholstery also has to go through testing for cigarette resistance because many domestic fires have also been caused by a lit cigarette that was recklessly placed near a sofa, couch, or mattress.

4. The importance of choosing an accredited lab for flammability testing services

It is recommended by the safety regulations that fire resistance testing should be carried out by a UKAS accredited lab, or at the very least a lab accredited by a government-approved accreditation body.

Test reports or certificates awarded to importers, manufacturers, or retailers should indicate compliance with the Schedule to the Regulations. Any tests conducted should also show traceability of the product to product batches.

Laboratories in the UK that carry out flammability testing should be accredited especially for upholstery fire resistance testing, including mattresses, beds, furniture, drapes, curtains, and foam/fillings testing.

For foam that is imported from overseas and used by a business to make a finished product in the UK, the manufacturer must provide evidence of compliance with safety regulations.

A Table Next To A Bed

Reach out to a UKAS accredited lab for flammability testing services in the UK

For flammability testing services such as drapes fire testing, you can reach out to us at IFS Laboratories Ltd. We are an accredited Flammability, Physical, and Chemical Testing Laboratory in the UK.

Founded in 1999 by a chemist and a businessperson, we specialise in providing flammability testing services for companies selling upholstery, mattresses, furnishings, and children’s sleepwear. We also provide a wide variety of analytical testing services, including terpene analysis and CBD product testing for retailers. Reach out to us on our website for more information about fire resistance regulations for domestic and commercial upholstery in the UK and for further questions about our services. You can also call us at +44 (0) 161 50 50 650 or send us an email at info@ifs-labs.com.