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Regulatory Compliance, Furniture Stability, Product Safety

AHFA Requests Extension of NPR Comment Period

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) has requested an extension of the public comment period on the proposed mandatory safety standard for clothing storage furniture. 

The rule proposed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was published in the Federal Register February 2, officially opening a 75-day comment period on the 1,100-page document.

In drafting its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR), the CPSC relied heavily on data from its 2020 tip-over injuries and fatalities report, which the agency released in January 2021. In June 2021, AHFA filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for that data. AHFA believesaccess to the data, which CPSC quoted extensively in the NPR, is essential for producing a relevant and sound response to the NPR.

After several follow-up communications from AHFA, CPSC informed the Alliance there would be a $3,700 fee for the agency to meet the FOIA request. On August 17, AHFA confirmed it would pay the fee, but the Alliance has not heard from CPSC on the matter since.

In order for AHFA to provide meaningful, data-driven analysis in its response to the NPR, it has requested that the Commission expedite the FOIA request and extend the NPR comment period by 90 days to allow AHFA time to examine the data.

Absent information requested by the FOIA, the Commission risks closing the public comment period without having afforded a key stakeholder the opportunity to provide full and complete comments due to the agencys own delay in producing information the stakeholder requested well in advance of the Commissions vote on the NPR, AHFA contends in its February 9 request to expedite release of the requested data.

AHFA made a similar request in 2019 for the underlying data used to produce the 2019 tip-over injuries and fatalities report. At that time, the Commission provided a compact disc with over 100,000 individual files of partial page printouts from an Excel spreadsheet. In order for AHFA to analyze the data, it would have had to print out the pages individually and manually reenter the data into an Excel spreadsheet.

For this reason, AHFA has specifically requested the 2020 data in its original Excel format, which, presumably, would be more time-efficient for staff.