The Business Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) has released an updated, ANSI approved, version of BIFMA X5.9 – Storage Units. The 2019 version, which supersedes the 2012 edition, was released on February 7, 2019.

SAFEGUARDS | Hardgoods NO. 025/19

Businesswoman looking through filing cabinet

BIFMA X5.9 defines specific tests, laboratory equipment, conditions of test, recommended minimum levels to be used in the test, and how to evaluate the performance, durability, and structural adequacy of storage units used in offices.

Among several updates, the standard contains an improved method for testing stability, as well as a scope expansion to include vertical file cabinets; BIFMA will formerly withdraw X5.3-Vertical Files.

Please see below for an overview of critical changes. A complete summary of changes can be found in Appendix C of X5.9.


  • Inclusion of definitions for “lateral file” and “vertical file” 
  • Modification of “case”, and “storage units”
  • The definition of “clear height” lowered from 457 mm (18 in) to 305 mm (12 in)

Environmental conditions

  • Test sample preconditioning of 24 hours at indoor ambient conditions
  • Test temperature of 15°C to 27°C (59°F to 80°F) with a relative humidity of 10-70%

Stability tests

  • Not applicable to products less than 450 mm (17.7 in) in height
  • Section 9.2 – Horizontal Force Stability Test for Tall Storage Units without Extendible Elements
    • Added “without Extendible Elements” to the test name
    • Height applicability lowered from 1067 mm (42 in) to 762 mm (30 in)
    • Update in loads and load location
  • Section 9.6 – Vertical Force Stability Test for Storage Units
    • Removed “Place an evenly distributed load of 36 kg/m (2 lb/in) of width in/on the lowest storage component in the unit”
    • Also deleted, “If the unit has multiple compartments, such as a coat closet and file or shelving spaces, load each compartment so as to load the interior bottom footprint of the unit.”
    • Update in loads and load location
  • Section 9.7— Stability Test for Pedestals/Storage Units with Seat Surfaces
    • Now only applies to units less than 965 mm (38 in) in height as measured from the floor to the top of the seating surface

Other Test Set Up and Procedure Changes

  • Racking Resistance now includes a 600-lb weight limit
  • Vertical Load Durability test set ups in 7.1.2, 7.2.2, and 7.3.2 have been modified; harmonization with X5.5 to allow use of load bag or force
  • Separation and Engagement Tests now has a component applicability weight of 9 kg (20 lb) and clarification for use of functional loads
  • Movement Durability Test for Mobile Storage Units, added tolerance of +/- 0.020 inch for obstacle thickness. Cycle rate now 10 (+2/ -6) cycles per minute. Added direction for caster and glide combinations
  • Extendible Element Cycle Tests, now exclude extendible elements with a load capacity less than 7 kg (15.4 lb) and do not have mechanical suspensions. Removed references to Swivel/Do Not Swivel. Wide pulls increased to 457 mm (18 in) width. Removed, “Horizontal cycle Test for Television/Video Display Terminal Extendible Elements that Swivel”
  • Door Tests, wide pulls increased to 457 mm (18 in) width
  • Latch Test, now also relevant to applicable extendible elements 
  • Swivel Cycle Test for Television/Video Display Surfaces has been removed


  • Several edits have been made to figures and tables for increased clarification
  • Modification of tolerances
  • Removed sand as an option for Impact Test bag

SGS Furniture Services

SGS adds value from the drawing board to the shop floor. With a full-range of services, including product design analysis, component and product testing, auditing, inspection and retail store checks, SGS helps businesses deliver well-designed, functional, durable and safe products to their customers. They have the furniture industry, regulatory and technical expertise required to check a products’ compliance against relevant standards and/or a manufacturer’s own specifications. Learn more about SGS’s Furniture Services.

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