Europe Refines Outdoor Furniture Standards
In the last five years, 49% of furniture recalls in Europe have related to outdoor products. To maintain market share and place safe products onto the market, suppliers must stay informed on modifications to product design and updates on product standards.
So far in 2017, Europe has updated two standards for outdoor furniture – EN 581-1 General Safety Requirements and EN 581-3 Mechanical Safety Requirements for Tables.
Outdoor tables and chairs are recalled more than any other furniture product category in Europe. The causes of recall are varied but include weak construction, problems over stability and finger entrapment, especially in relation to folding mechanisms – 48% of recalled outdoor products are folding chairs.
While poor construction can be a reason for recall, a consistent issue has been safe products failing to comply with the relevant European Union (EU) standard – EN 581-1. It is important manufacturers and suppliers fully understand and follow standard changes, in order to always place safe compliant products onto the market.
Since 2015, the EU has been publishing updated versions of the EN 581-series of standards, to more clearly define terms and make them more relevant to the market’s requirements. The process began with the publishing of EN 581-2 and has continued in 2017 with revised versions of EN 581-1 and EN 581-3.
EN 581-1:2017 – General Safety Requirement for Outdoor Furniture – Less Stringent and More Defined
The 2017 version of this standard is, in some ways, less stringent than its 2006 incarnation. At the same time, it has also introduced new requirements, of which manufacturers should be aware.
Changes from the 2006 version include:
- A clearer indication that the standard only relates to adult use
- Revised definition of camping, domestic and contract use
- Edges and corners must be assessed according to the new definitions of accessible parts for seating and tables
- Requirements for gaps and holes have been removed following consideration of the issue of finger injuries relating to the end of tubular components
- Risk relating to shear and squeeze points is reevaluated as some points don’t endanger the user and they now take into account the ability of the user to control their own movements
- Glass-topped tables now require protection between the parasol and glass, to stop direct contact.
The driving force behind this revision has been the desire to clarify requirements and make it more relevant to the realities of the market. For example, finger entrapment requirements have changed following the acknowledgment that several products have been readily available on the market, without incident, but with holes and gaps of between seven and twelve millimeters – the size defined for children over three years of age. It has also been recognized that similar requirements do not exist for indoor adult furniture.
The 2006 version also lacked clarity, allowing misinterpretation. The revised version includes additional information, such as a definition of accessibility for sharp edges and corners. The problem over misinterpretation accounted for a considerable number of the failed products, even though objectively, and under the revised standard, they presented no risk to the user.
EN 581-3:2017 – Mechanical Safety Requirements for Outdoor Tables - General Updating
EN 581-3 was updated in January 2017 to bring it into line with EN 1730:2012. EN 581-3:2017 now includes a more detailed table of parameters, that are adapted to EN 1730, in place of the previous test method. By adding conformity to other standards, EN 581-3 is now providing greater clarity to the various options for table types. For example, tables without extensions, tables with extensions, tables longer than 1600mm, small tables, etc.
The revised version also makes new demands for glass table tops, including the requirement to:
- Fulfill the conditions of EN 12150-1:2015, Clause 8, fragmentation test match either Type B or Type C, mode of breakage (β) according to EN 12600:2002. Make sure holes for parasols are protected to prevent metal to glass contact
The updated version of the standard also makes several amendments, including:
- A decrease in the forces used for the static load test to bring it into line with the requirements of the EN 15735 standard for non-domestic tables
While the changes to EN 581.1-3 have, in some ways, made compliance easier, they have also clarified, and therefore strengthened, the standard. The revisions have also impacted in other ways. For example, by bringing EN 581.3 into line with EN 1730:2012, camping table stability requirements have been changed. The previous requirement for 200N to be applied to the table has been replaced by a length-dependent version. Some long tables may now fail this requirement, when they would have passed the 2008 version.
SGS solutions: Furniture services
Working with SGS from an early stage will help manufacturers avoid making costly mistakes, resulting from non-compliance. SGS’s full-range of services can help with product design analysis, component and product testing, auditing, inspection and retail store checks all help to ensure that products are designed with safety and compliance in mind. In addition, our internal furniture technical committee, made up of experts from different locations, keeps technical teams updated on amendments to standards and regulations, as well as harmonizing test procedures and interpretations across their global network.
For more information about SGS services for the furniture industry, please contact your local SGS sales representative or contact our global team.
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