News Article

​The Furniture Industry Research Association publishes a standard for bariatric seating

With a growing number of people in Western Europe becoming overweight, obesity is becoming a major challenge. Obesity raises the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and some studies estimate that nearly 10% of medical spending can be attributed to bariatric patients. The demand for products for bariatric users (those weigh in excess of 20 stone) is increasing, however there is a lack of information for manufacturers developing bariatric products to help them meet this challenge.

The Furniture Industry Research Association identified this issue and has tackled it with a new standard for bariatric seating: FS 058: 2017 Seating - Performance and dimensional requirement for bariatric seating.

The development of the standard has taken a number of years and involved engagement with a number of stakeholders including the health service, patients, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers to the healthcare market. FIRA’s experts undertook interviews and fact-finding discussions with all stakeholders and worked with bariatric models, using pressure mapping, to assess load distribution of bariatric users as they sit down, relax and then get out of seating. This research, combined with the Research Association’s intimate knowledge of furniture standards and testing, has resulted in the UK’s first bariatric furniture standard.

Chief Ergonomist at FIRA, Levent Çaglar, who led the research said “We are really pleased to announce the publication of this standard. It has presented a unique challenge, as no two bariatric patients are the same in size, shape, weight and ability. This means just making a larger version of existing designs is not realistic, you have to consider size and shape, the type of fillings needed to give adequate support to a bariatric user. In addition the mobility of patients can be a significant factor, larger patients tend to be less mobile and this poses additions safety risks, both from excessive periods of inactivity and then the risk to the user and carers when exiting the chair. We believe this standard offers excellent advice to designers and manufacturers of bariatric products, and also those specifying products or bariatric users.”

The Research Association would like to thank all the stakeholders who contributed to the development of this standard and in particular Association members Knightsbridge Furniture, who supplied seating samples for assessment, and Vita Foam who shared their experiences in supplying foams and fillings for bariatric seating.

Following in from the success of this project the Furniture Industry Research Association are currently developing a standard for beds and mattresses suitable for bariatric users. If you would like to be involved with this project contact FIRA as soon as possible.

The standard is available as a free download to members of the Research Association, or available for non-members to purchase here for £250+VAT.

For more information, or to have your products assessed to the new standard, contact FIRA on +44(0)1438 777 700 or email info@fira.co.uk.

Non-members who wish to access this document can join the Furniture Industry Research Association.

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