In the third of our series looking at regulations and requirements across each discipline we look at what a designer needs to know when specifying storage with the assistance of Product Development Manager Mark Shatford at Bisley.
Domestic or Contract?
The working environment for domestic and contract/commercial items can differ greatly, as a reflection of this the regulations that govern the safety standards that they must adhere to also differ. Different commercial industries will have different requirements from a product as well, for example if you were designing furniture to be used in a residential care home then the product would need to meet the domestic, commercial and potentially healthcare specifications.
There are various British and European standards for office furniture. They are created and reviewed by a committee of experts in the testing and office furniture industries. These experts come from a range of organisations across Europe, including the UK. Compliance with these standards ensures that the certified products are fit for purpose and will not cause harm to the user in the tasks for which they are specified.
"Compliance is also a guide to the longevity of the product and helps to support the manufacturer’s warranty".
Both structural and ergonomic factors are covered by the standards. The products will not break under normal use, nor will they cause discomfort to the user. Note that these standards in themselves are not legal requirements. There are separate standards for the main items of office furniture - seating, desking, screens, storage.
UK, EU or USA requirements?
The USA standard for office storage is ANSI/BIFMA X5.9 - 2012. The areas tested are consistent but the test detail varies. UK and Europe both recognise 14073 and 14074, but the BS ones apply to the UK only.
There are practical differences too across geographical regions. For example, standard working heights vary and paper sizes such as the ‘American Letter’, British ‘Foolscap’ and Dutch ‘Folio’ have a direct impact on capacity and dimensional requirements. Even the units of measurement used to plan and design in are different - US dimensions are imperial rather than metric.
What should you ask your supplier?
This depends on the product you are purchasing however generally speaking you need to be aware of quantities, complexity, lead times and costs. It’s also important that the product meets your design criteria so a data sheet/technical specification for the supplier is important so you can leverage their expertise in materials and tooling/manufacturing.
The designer should be asking, what materials/techniques the supplier will be using for the product to ensure it is fit for purpose? What specification requirements are necessary, which are desired? Can the supplier and their proposed methodology provide the volumes needed? Is the volume consistent or are large batches preferable? Does the supplier have the right credentials to represent the brand for which the product is being designed?
Best practice or legal requirement?
"As a rule of thumb anything that involves the safety of the end user will be a legal requirement".
Things that enhance the practicality and usability of the product are best practice requirements. Consequently, none of the British and European standards listed are legal requirements but without them your product will automatically be ruled out of many opportunities.
These are the UK/European storage testing standards:
- BS EN 14073-2:2004 Office furniture. Storage furniture. Safety requirements
- BS EN 14073-3:2004 Office furniture. Storage furniture. Test methods for the determination of stability and strength of the structure
- BS EN 14074:2004 Office furniture. Tables and desks and storage furniture. Test methods for the determination of strength and durability of moving parts