July 1, 2020
Before the current period of working from home, we spent a lot of our time in the workplace – up to 40+ hours a week on average. As workplaces reopen, taking a proactive approach towards workplace health and wellness may result in healthier, happier and more motivated employees.
Promoting worker health can include correct sitting posture, which is especially important for people working with visual display equipment. Most workers are seated at their desks, so it’s important that office chairs align with the latest standard requirements. Dimensions of office chairs are important to help promote employee health and safety through correct posture.
In Europe the requirements for dimensions of office work chairs are defined by the standard EN 1335-1. This standard helps to verify that chairs can provide appropriate support to different body types by suitable adjusting ranges (like height of the seat and height of the lumbar support). This standard defines the requirements for the office work chair dimensions based on anthropometric data, mechanical design and other factors.
Recently the standard has been updated to EN 1335-1:2020, replacing the previous version of the same standard. The new version of the standard has been made available by CEN (the European organization for standardization) on April 22, 2020. Based on latest available data in the CEN website as of June 15, 2020, European National standard bodies have until October 2020 to publish the national version and until April 2021 to withdraw the old version. This additional time allows manufacturers to adapt their products to the new version of the standard.
The standard defines four different work chair types from type C, with minimum adjustability, to type A, with a greater number of adjustable features and wider rages. It also introduces a new type, Ax, not present in the previous version of the standard, with further wider adjusting ranges.
The main change in the new version of the standard involves measurement methods. The updated standard is based on the method of measurement defined in the international standard ISO 24496:2017 “Office furniture — Office chairs — Methods for the determination of dimensions”. Measurements are now required to be performed using a highly technological instrument called a Chair Measurement Device (CMD).
The updated EN 1335-1:2020 standard also requires evaluators to perform measurements in a specific sequence. Measuring a single feature without following the full measurement sequence may result in incorrect data. It is therefore recommended that a testing program perform the full measurement sequence to acquire accurate values for each feature.
Because of these differences in test method requirements, some features that complied with the old EN 1335 standard may not comply with its updates. This may be a particular problem for chairs with measures or ranges that barely met the requirements defined in the previous standard version. Office chair manufacturers should start planning at their earliest convenience to retest their work chairs according to the updated version of the standard, so they will have time to modify design in case of non-compliances.
UL works with office furniture manufacturers and is fully equipped and accredited to test measurements according to ISO 24496:2017. This allows us to support manufacturers in verifying if their products comply with the requirements in the updated standard EN 1335-2020, using the new required test methods.