OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE
November 25, 1997
On September 9, 1996, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a final rule in the Federal Register amending the current Standards for the Flammability of Children's Sleepwear (16 C.F.R. Parts 1615 and 1616) ("Sleepwear Standards") under the Flammable Fabrics Act. The amendments completely exempt from the sleepwear standards, garments sized 9 months and under. They also exempt tight-fitting sleepwear as defined in the amendments in sizes above 9 months.
When the Commission issued the final amendments, it also issued a "Stay of Enforcement" (scheduled to expire March 9, 1998) that applied to garments that are used for sleeping and are skin-tight, are relatively free of ornamentation, and are labeled and/or marketed as underwear. The Commission has extended the stay of enforcement until June 9, 1998. The Commission published notice of its extension in the Federal Register of November 7, 1997 (62 Fed. Reg. 60163). The stay of enforcement is intended to provide additional time to complete a retail cycle to sell tight-fitting garments made before the effective date of the amendments, generally labeled and sold as "underwear" that do not meet all of the dimensional requirements specified in the recent sleepwear amendments.
Retailers should note that after the stay of enforcement expires June 8, 1998, firms must comply with the sleepwear standards for all garments intended for use as sleepwear. This means sleepwear must meet the flammability requirements, be tight-fitting, or sized 9 months and under. While the sleepwear standards do not apply to underwear, the staff will continue to look at whether a garment labeled as underwear is actually intended primarily for that use. The staff plans to take action against firms that manufacture and sell garments for use as sleepwear that do not comply with the sleepwear requirements.
Because the amendments to the sleepwear standards now permit the sale of tight-fitting, non-flame resistant sleepwear, it is very important that retail staff and consumers understand the need to purchase properly sized garments when they choose non-flame-resistant sleepwear sold for children in sizes above 9 months. These tight-fitting garments will have to contact the skin at all points. They look different (smaller) than traditional flame-resistant sleepwear. Consumers also need to know that flame-resistant-garments are still available as a looser-fitting alternative. And consumers need to be able easily to tell the difference between the two types of sleepwear that will be on the market. We encourage you to provide appropriate training to your retail staff that will be selling these tight-fitting sleepwear items to consumers.
Please contact Patricia Fairall at 301-504-7517 or Marilyn Borsari at 301-504-7619, if you have any questions.
Alan H. Schoem