Standard procedure | Furniture news magazine


Levent Caglar, Head of Consulting and Senior Ergonomist at FIRA-Internationaland figurehead of many standardization committees, offers an overview of standards…

I have been involved with standards for over 30 years, and although I consider them essential to safety, we never want to see them stifle innovation – which is so essential in our sector, and I will come back to this later in detail shortly.

While security is central to the development of many standards, it is not the only key driver. The objective of “standardization” has a broader scope. Standards help guide the design, development and manufacture of fit-for-purpose and durable furniture products, which has an impact on sustainability. They also ensure a level of quality and give companies a criterion allowing them to comply with the standards. They can also give a marketing edge – if you’re testing to a standard, then why not tell your potential customers? !

A common question that I am often asked concerns the relationship between standards legislation and standards. Compulsory standards are cited in legislation – indicating that the standard in question must be met in order to sell a specific product or service (for example, upholstery used as part of a domestic sofa must fully comply with the standards set out in the UK Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended), and failure to comply may result in prosecution).

There are, however, voluntary standards, which are not part of the legislation, but they show due diligence on your part if you follow them. An example here might be: ‘BS EN 1957:2012 Furniture. Beds and mattresses. Test methods for the determination of functional characteristics and evaluation criteria. This standard would help assess product quality and durability, providing insight into a product’s potential lifecycle and eventually customer satisfaction after purchase.

When it comes to developing standards, voices are key. There must be a balance between all the stakeholders involved, from technical to safety to design. This ensures that standards do not restrict design innovation, but rather that design works in partnership with form and function. This is where the furniture industry can play a major role in developing standards. When you see a standards committee asking for input from industry, get involved and make your voice heard.

My work with the Furniture Industry Research Association has a strong focus on all facets of standards, from developing new standards to revising current standards and updating or replacing standards that no longer reflect the innovation that we see in the furniture sector.

One of the main objectives of this work is to help members with developments in order to help them plan changes to their design/manufacturing for future changes in standards. We also seek to improve member participation in standards development in terms of testing new proposals, preparing comments on draft standards and allowing them to offer their expertise by working with us.

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