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Floor cushions

Floor cushions are not excluded from the UK fire regulations, so testing must be as rigorous as on upholstered furniture.

SATRA considers that floor cushions are covered by the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, which require them to be treated as upholstered furniture because they are not specifically excluded. UK enforcement agents usually make an interpretation of the regulations when deciding whether to test a product. They might make a decision based on factors such as size, appearance and the way in which the product is presented or promoted. For example, if any literature indicated that the product was suitable for use on the floor, it would be regarded as a floor cushion. If a product is labelled 'This cushion is not suitable for use on the floor', enforcement agents still may insist on a test if the item is large enough to sit on or if they have reasonable doubts about safety. Assuming floor cushions do need to meet the UK regulations, doing so involves six aspects:

1. The cover or outer material must be match resistant (pass the test in Schedule 5 part I, which is a modification of BS 5852 with ignition source 1 and a non-fire resistant (FR) polyester foam). The only exception to this is if the cover is composed of 75 per cent or more of cotton, viscose, modal, flax, silk or wool, separately or in combination. In this case, it need not be match resistant, provided it is used over a FR interliner that passes the test in Schedule 3.

2. The regulations require that the cover and filling, in combination (often called a 'composite'), including the interliner if any, must be cigarette resistant (that is, it must pass the test in Schedule 4 part I). Note: for both aspects 1 and 2, if the cover has been treated or back coated to reduce its ignitability, it must be water soaked and air dried (by hanging up) before testing.

3. The filling must pass an ignitability test. There are several types of test, according to the material used in the filling. These are: (a) polyurethane foam in block or moulded form (including bonded crumb and reconstituted foam) Schedule 1 part I; (b) loose crumb foam Schedule 1 part II; (c) latex rubber foam Schedule 1 part III; and (d) non-foam filling including feathers Schedule 2 part I. It is important that the conditions of test, particularly the packing density, are representative of the conditions of use.

4. Each floor cushion must carry a swing tag. These are of two standard designs: a square one if the cover is match resistant or a triangular one if the interliner route to compliance is followed.

5. A permanent label must also be fitted. The precise details are given in the regulations, but the label needs to give information such as the name of the manufacturer, date of supply, batch
number and a description of materials and their compliance.

6. The first supplier (the UK manufacturer or the importer) is required to keep records that provide traceability for checking compliance from test reports, through production records and batch numbers to the information given on labels.

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Please click here for details of SATRA's furniture testing services. Email furniture@satra.com for further information on the testing of floor cushions.