Business owners may be tempted to purchase chairs from retail stores, due to their low cost. However, many of the chairs sold at retail stores are not manufactured to commercial use standards and could cause injuries to customers.

Most retail chairs are tested to a static load weight of 250 lbs. This is static weight load, meaning the load is not moving. However, people generally do not sit perfectly still on chairs. They move/adjust while sitting or lean back, transferring all the weight onto the rear legs.

The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) is a not-for-profit trade group that develops standards for furniture used in commercial and institutional settings. BIFMA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and together, these two organizations have developed the ANSI/BIFMA X5.4 Lounge and Public Seating standard. This is a voluntary standard and not every chair will meet it. BIFMA and ANSI developed the X5.4 Lounge and Public Seating standard by incorporating dynamic loads into the testing. This means the load is moving during testing, just like people do while sitting in a chair.      

These standards are intended to provide manufacturers and users with a common basis for evaluating the durability and structural adequacy of lounge and public seating. The ANSI/BIFMA X5.4 label can usually be found on the packaging or under the seat cushions of chairs and stools. Any chairs used for public or commercial seating should be designed and tested to this standard.

To help ensure customer safety, businesses should conduct and document seating inspections. Seats found to have defects or damage should be removed from service and properly disposed.

In the event you have a claim involving a particular chair, it should be stored for safe keeping. This will help with Nationwide’s claim investigation. Disposal of the chair could make the loss difficult to defend.    

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For more assistance, contact us online, schedule a virtual consultation, or get in touch with your independent agent or local Nationwide Loss Control Services representative.

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