Help to lobby the government to remove baby products from Fire Retardancy Regulations.

Towards the end of 2009 the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) announced that the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 would be revised and the first stakeholder event to kick-off the work was held in 2010. Fast forward 12 years and BIS has become the Office for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS); a new department has been created called the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) ­— and, frustratingly, the revision is no closer to completion.

The Baby Products Association has been campaigning since before the revision was announced to have baby products removed from scope. Since the revision was announced, each Minister has assured us that this will be reviewed during the revision and the 2016 draft of the new Regulations actually excluded them, but like all previous attempts, this revision stalled. It took two and a half years to publish the consultation responses and this work was subsequently abandoned.

In 2019 the Environmental Audit Committee conducted an inquiry into Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life and concluded that baby products should immediately be removed from the scope of the current regulations. The Minister assured the Committee that this would be reviewed during the current revision but we are still waiting and in the meantime, nothing has changed.

A new approach to the Regulations has been adopted and they are to contain only the scope and essential safety requirements, underpinned by safety standards developed by BSI. The new draft Regulations were to be published for consultation by the end of Q2 of 2022, but have been delayed again, with the new deadline of Autumn 2022 suggested. The BSI Committee responsible for developing the safety standards cannot develop any until it knows what is in scope and so further delays are a certainty.

The Baby Products Association now calls time on the process, which has no guarantee of success, even if the consultation draft meets its new, later deadline. What if it’s another two and a half years before the consultation responses are addressed and published? It’s proven to be a contentious subject and although OPSS has expressed a desire to reduce the amount of flame retardant chemicals, there will be resistance from wealthy flame retardant manufacturers that will undoubtedly influence progress.

We urge all businesses to write to the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy at House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or email kwasi.kwarteng.mp@parliament.uk urging him to finally see sense and remove baby products from the scope of these Regulations, rather than relying on a revision that has so far taken 12 years with no guarantee of success.

The Baby Products Association has drafted a letter and is happy to share with both members and non-members for the good of the industry, which you can personalise and amend as you see fit. Please email julie@b-p-a.org for a copy and make sure that Mr Kwarteng has plenty to keep him busy when he returns from summer recess.

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