The Furniture Industry Research Association

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Technical Information Article

What is cable management?

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Cable management refers to the provision of distribution systems for electrical power, data and communications cabling in office desking and screens. This includes cable trays, power sockets etc used for computers, computer networks and telephones

Introduction

Cable management refers to the provision of distribution systems for electrical power, data and communications cabling in office desking and screens. This includes cable trays, power sockets etc used for computers, computer networks and telephones.

To ensure the safety of the user, all cable management systems should conform to BS 6396: 2008 – Electrical systems in office furniture and Educational Furniture – Specification.

What are the key requirements of BS 6396?

Full requirements are available within the standard, however as a short summary:

  • All furniture must be fit for purpose, this is normally proved by testing to current strength and stability standards. (see article entitled What do I need to know to sell office desking in the UK?)
  • There should be no sharp edges on any of the equipment or furniture in contact with any cabling to prevent damage in use.
  • All components should conform to the British Standards relevant to those products.
  • All parts of the electrical distribution system should be prevented from overcurrent and the user should never be exposed to hazardous voltages, even if there is a failure of insulation.
  • Any mains power cable entering the desk should be less than 2 m in length and should feature a cable clamp at the inlet to the desk to prevent undue strain on the cable.
  • The maximum rating of the electrical distribution system should be no more than 13 amps, and the number of sockets used is limited to four (if rated no more than 5A each) or six (if rated no more than 3.15A each).
  • The power sockets also need to placed to protect them from water spillage such as knocking over a cup of coffee.
  • Power cabling needs to be segregated from data cables. This is achieved either by having a 50mm gap between power and data cables, dedicated separate channels for power and data cables, cable screening of individual services or insulating all cables for the highest voltage present in the system.
  • Once the system is installed in an office the installation also needs to be checked for continuity, polarity and insulation resistance.

What are the marking requirements?

In addition to the physical requirements the standard also requires that instructions and markings be supplied with the product.

The desk needs a permanent label attached to it detailing the rating of the system and where instructions on safe operation can be found. Full details of the requirements are contained in the standard. It should be noted that the label must be permanent, that is it cannot be removed without destroying it, and the text cannot be removed by rubbing with water or petroleum spirit.

In addition the minimum size of any character must be 2mm. This does not mean a 2mm typeface used by printers, but a typeface where the lower case characters are a minimum of 2mm in height.

Finally adequate instructions for the safe installation and use of the equipment must be supplied as a separate leaflet. Once again the standard contains the minimum details required.

Did you know?

BS 6396 only covers cable management that is ultimately plugged into a standard 13 amp socket. Where power cables are permanently wired into the building ring main they are covered by BS 7671 – the IEE Wiring Regulations.

What are the benefits of testing to this standard?

  • Demonstrates fitness for purpose
  • Shows reasonable steps have been taken to ensure quality and safety
  • Reduction in complaints
  • Provision of expert reports
  • Test certificates can be used for marketing benefits
How can I find out more?

Contact: Technical Services
E-mail: info@fira.co.uk

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