It’s currently a very busy period in the development of standards and regulations. In previous columns I’ve mentioned the proposed revision of the UK’s Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations, together with the UK government’s aim to revise, replace or repeal all legacy EU regulations on the statue books by 31 December 2023. In addition, there’s a lot going on in standards development as well.
All the changes are a double-edged sword. Updated standards, reflecting state of the art test methods, changes in materials and development of innovative designs are of course important. On the flip side, however, constant changes to standards and regulations do impose additional costs on industry as they struggle to comply with new requirements.
When new or revised standards are introduced, they become effective immediately, with previous versions withdrawn. This can cause confusion, as it takes time to develop product to meet the new requirements, and some tenders are almost immediately updated with the latest standards references. What should be remembered is that standards are not applied retrospectively, and that if a product is already on the market and met previous versions of standards, in most cases the product would still be considered safe and suitable. It should be new product that needs to meet the latest standards, or changes made when the product is submitted for regular re-testing. Specifiers should also give a lead-in period of at least 6 months to allow manufacturers to develop products that will meet the new standards.
As a guide to what is likely to be introduced over the next 2 to 3 years, below is an example of the contract standards being developed:
BS EN 1725 for beds is being revised to include non-domestic beds within its scope.
BS EN 747 for bunk beds is being revised to allow some type of end access.
BS EN 15372 for non-domestic tables is being revised to include height adjustable tables and improved entrapment requirements.
BS EN 16139 for non-domestic seating is being revised to reflect state of the art test methods and incorporate improved entrapment requirements.
BS EN 16121 for non-domestic storage is being revised to include office storage furniture and incorporate improved entrapment requirements.
prEN 17684 for motorised furniture is being developed.
A guide for increasing test loads for seating to represent use by people weighing more than 110 kg is also being developed, reflecting the growing needs of manufacturers and specifiers.
So, as you can see, there’s going to be a lot of changes coming along soon, so keep your eyes peeled for updates.