Ensure seating you buy for reception areas and home offices is safe and durable, with this BIFMA standard

by Brianna Crandall — January 21, 2021 — The nonprofit Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) has just announced that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved the new safety and performance standard ANSI/BIFMA X6.4-2021, Occasional-Use Seating.

This standard is intended to provide manufacturers, specifiers and users with a common basis for evaluating the safety, durability, and structural adequacy of business and institutional occasional-use seating. It is intended to assess the performance of new products only, not for products that have been in use.

The Scope of ANSI/BIFMA X6.4-2021 includes the following: “Occasional-use seating is normally used in indoor common/shared spaces such as waiting, reception, visitor seating in patient rooms, restaurant / dining / cafeteria settings and other gathering areas. Occasional-use seating may also be used in the home environment.”

It further explains: “Occasional-use seating products are generally not adjustable for personal use. Occasional-use seating includes products with single seat units, units with multiple seating positions within one unit, or ganged seating units.”

The BIFMA Subcommittee for Seating Standards and diverse industry stakeholders worked diligently for the past three years to introduce this new ANSI standard. The Subcommittee provided guidance for the 2018 publication of BIFMA X6.4-2018 Occasional-Use Seating.

Demand for this standard increased in 2020 with the influx of work at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Association sponsored development of X6.4 to become an American National Standard.

This new standard defines the specific tests, laboratory equipment, conditions of test, and recommended minimum levels to be used in the testing and evaluation of the safety, durability, and structural adequacy of occasional-use seating products.

X6.4-2021 specifies tests and acceptance levels to help ensure reasonable safety and performance independent of construction materials, manufacturing processes, mechanical designs or aesthetic designs. It does not address flammability, surface material durability, cushioning materials, product emissions or ergonomic considerations.

The standard does not specifically address seating units that must be attached to the building structure for support or stability purposes, nor general-purpose or task-oriented office chairs, or seating used for stadiums, auditoriums, lecture rooms, airports/train stations and similar high-use public seating areas.

BIFMA points out that product life will be impacted by user size/weight, product use, care and maintenance, environment and other factors, and, as such, compliance to the standard does not necessarily guarantee a five-year product life. However, products may perform longer than five years with appropriate use and care.

Copies of the new ANSI/BIFMA X6.4-2021, Occasional-Use Seating standard are available on the group’s website for BIFMA members or for member companies.