If you’re shopping for an office chair, you may have noticed some models have various industry acronyms or certifications. Don’t let all the logos and jargon frustrate you – below is an explanation of the basic office chair certifications that cover the stability, strength, and sustainability of an office chair. With this knowledge under your belt, you can shop like an expert and make sure you know what you’re buying.
AFRDI / Furntech
AFRDI (The Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute), also known as Furntech, is a not-for-profit group that researches and tests many different types of commercial and domestic furniture. AFRDI has created industry standards that assist manufacturers in making quality products, help retailers properly market furniture items, and aid consumers in understanding what they’re buying.
Swivel office chairs with height adjustment capability fall under the AS/NZS 4438 or the AFRDI 142- Rated Load set of requirements. The AS/NZS 4438 requirements are for users weighing 110 kg or less. Under this standard there are three levels; 4, 5, and 6. Level 4 certified office chairs are for general office use. Level 5 chairs are for industrial locations or other demanding office environments. Level 6 chairs are designed to truly take a beating, and are recommended for high-use situations and heavy industry.
If you’re looking for a chair to satisfy requirements of your company’s human resources department, a level 6 chair is ideal. If your HR department doesn’t have specific requirements, a level 4 or 5 chair should be sufficient.
AFRDI 142- Rated Load certification standards cover office chairs designed for users over 110 kg. For users up to and including 135 kg, look for certification 135 SS or 135 MS (SS is for 40 hours per week of use, and MS is for significantly over 40 hours per week). If the intended user is between 135 kg and 160 kg, look for certification 160 SS and 160 MS.
Keep in mind that these certifications are for safety and durability only. While a level 6 chair will have more adjustability features (and is therefore more ergonomic by definition) they are not certified as ergonomic under these classifications.
AFRDI Blue and Green Tick Certification
There are several tags under the AFRDI-Furntech certification scheme: AFRDI, AFRDI Blue Tick, Green Tick, Furntech Orange Tick, AFRDI Rated Load, and AFRDI 146 Leather. But the Green Tick and Blue Tick tags deserve special mention.
Green Tick Hang Tag - In addition to creating a consistent set of standards, AFRDI ensures that each item they test is safe by being strong, stable and inflammable. The organisation also puts an emphasis on environmental sustainability. They take into consideration factors like how raw materials are sourced and how durable a product is (to keep items out of landfills), and even if components are recyclable.
The Green Building Council of Australia recognises the AFRDI certifications under the following equivalency:
- AFRDI Green Tick Level C/Silver – Level B recognition
- AFRDI Green Tick Level B/Gold – Level A recognition
- AFRDI Green Tick Level A/Platinum – Level A recognition
Blue Tick Hang Tag – Blue Tick certification means that not only does the chair meet the safety and durability requirements for AS/NZS 4438, it signifies that the supplier has entered into an agreement with AFRDI to maintain the quality of their chairs according to AFRDI specifications.
To use the Blue Tick tag on their products, suppliers must have products tested every three years, if the AFRDI standards change, or the supplier makes changes to the product. In addition, the supplier must keep a log of complaints and be willing to allow spot checks from AFRDI. This ensures any office chair with a Blue Tick tag is held to the most current standards.
ANSI, the American National Standards Institute, is a non-profit organization that works to protect the safety and health of consumers and to protect the environment. They do this by creating standards for evaluating thousands of product types, covering everything from beverage bottles to solar energy.
BIFMA, the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association, oversees standards and certifications for commercial furniture in accordance with ANSI criteria. Like AFRDI/Furntech, BIFMA standards address safety and durability of commercial furniture. BIFMA defines what specific tests are needed, the conditions of each test, minimum results to pass each test, and even what testing equipment is to be used. The actual product tests are then performed by third-party organisations.
By setting a standard for the testing, consumers can feel confident that all BIFMA-certified chairs have been subjected to the same standards.
BIFMA International level® Certification
In 2009, BIFMA introduced level® certification. This evaluates office furniture from an environmental standpoint, dealing with materials and chemical off-gassing, impact of the product and manufacturing process on the environment, and even addresses social responsibility.
There are three certifications within the level® scheme, with level®1 being the lowest and level® 3 being the highest. Look for a hang tag or on the guide for a level® logo and you’ll know your office chair meets stringent environmental and sustainability guidelines.
ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) develops International standards designed to create a level playing field for International trade. It is a voluntary program and developed by the consensus of its global participants. They create standards for products as well as services. As with BIFMA, they do not certify any product or company; rather, they create the standards and a third party determines complicity.
An ISO 9001 certification (which is often also referred to as an ISO 9000) is actually specific to the industry or product, however, it does represent to the consumer that general, agreed-upon standards of safety, quality, and consumer rights have been met.