June 6, 2022
Authored by: Christopher Jensen and Jonathan Roberts, Codes and Regulatory Services, UL Solutions
Prefabricated privacy booths and sleep capsules
Prefabricated rooms and privacy booths are becoming more popular as the need for privacy within public spaces increases. These privacy booths and rooms are being installed in locations such as offices, airport terminals and other occupancies. The need for people to have a private meeting space or a quiet place to make a call is increasing the popularity of these products. Lactation booths for nursing mothers looking for privacy and sleep pods to catch a quick nap are becoming more prevalent.
UL 962, the Standard for Household and Commercial Furnishings, recently underwent revisions to include requirements specifically for these products. Updates broaden the scope of the Standard beyond just furnishings to include new electrical, egress and fire safety requirements for mitigating the hazards associated with prefabricated rooms or booths. Prefabricated rooms and booths listed to UL 962 will feature a visible certification label and applicable safety warning notices for installers and occupants.
New requirements in UL 962 include guidance for what the Standard refers to as bunk capsule cabins, or sleeping capsules, which are generally intended for short-term napping, not for long stays. It also includes requirements for evaluating safety considerations if the units are designed to be stacked. Among the requirements for these products are upper-bunk capsule cabin loading, torsional strength, resistance to separation, handrail/guardrail, ceiling support and stability tests.
Ladder access to the upper bunk is another hazard the Standard addresses. Ladders can be a lean-on (slanted) or a hang-on (vertical) type. Either type of ladder must be able to support the load that would be applied from a 300-pound person and must remain in place without becoming dislodged. Additionally, the ladder rungs must not be more than 12 inches apart, and the ladder itself cannot be less than 10 inches wide.
Where a bunk capsule is provided with an upper sleep capsule (top capsule cabin), UL 962 requires a means be in place to prevent a sleeping occupant from rolling or sliding out of bed. This comes in the form of what the Standard describes as an elevated means that must be no less than 5 inches above the top surface of the mattress to help ensure that sleeping occupants remain safely in the upper capsule.
Prefabricated privacy booths (aka room-in-room) are occupiable products/furnishings covered under UL 962. These are generally larger than a sleep capsule and are designed for use as a private room installed within a larger space inside a building. These products may also be used for meetings or private spaces away from the noise of a crowded open space. UL 962 contains specific criteria pertaining to these booths, including requirements for egress doors, fire detection and suppression, ceiling types and emergency lighting.
In a booth or room-in-room equipped with a door, UL 962 requires the door to be of the outward-swinging or sliding type. When the door features a locking mechanism, it must be unlockable from both inside and outside the room in case of an emergency. This ensures that proper egress from the booth is maintained at all times and that first responders can access the space during an emergency.
When a booth or room-in-room is equipped with a ceiling, the ceiling construction must provide a means for fire suppression within the space based on the fire suppression of the building or room in which the product is installed. Compliance options include an open-grid ceiling, a listed drop-out ceiling or a fire suppression system installed within the space, either in the form of a standalone suppression system or an automatic fire sprinkler connected to the building’s sprinkler system in accordance with NFPA 13. Rooms with open-grid ceilings are also required to maintain specific distances from any overhead sprinkler suppression systems; the specifics outlined in the Standard range from 18 inches to 36 inches, depending on sprinkler type and layout.
These booths must also include specific labeling that corresponds with their construction and specifies additional safety requirements for the booth. For example, when using an open-grid or drop-out ceiling, UL 962 requires specific warning labels on the booth itself, specifying the type of occupancies in which the booth can be installed, the type of automatic sprinkler system under which the booth can be installed, and a warning not to set objects on top of the drop-out ceiling.
Flame-spread and smoke-developed index are additional concerns addressed in UL 962 as related to interior finish ratings and applicable building code requirements. The Standard requires that the surface materials from which the booths are constructed be tested in accordance with UL 723, the Standard for Test for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials. When a product has a smoke-developed index of more than 450, the Standard requires the product to be clearly marked “SMOKE DEVELOPED INDEX OVER 450”.
UL 962 also requires additional safety markings for sleep pods that:
- Specify the type and height of the mattress
- Specify the allowable age of users in upper capsule spaces (not less than 6 years old)
- Prohibit substitution of replacement parts
- Ensure that the top-space guard rail remains in place and is secure
- Prohibit the use of water-filled or sleep flotation mattresses
UL certifies (lists) sleep pods, booths and room-in-room-type products under the product category for Furniture, Powered and Nonpowered (IYNE). The UL guide information and certifications (listings) are available using our online certification database UL Product iQ® at www.UL.com/PiQ. Use Product iQat no cost with a simple one-time registration. To view products certified by UL, enter IYNE in the smart search field on the Product IQ home page.
When installing prefabricated booths, room-in-room-type products and sleeping capsules, contact the code authorities to identify any local codes, policies or regulations that apply to their installation and use.