When looking around on the internet for new furniture purchases for your office, it is quite common to come across a number of incomprehensible acronyms and codes for standards you have never heard of. Some descriptions for office chairs you find will declare that the chairs are AFRDI tested, but what exactly does this mean?
The AFRDI is the Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute, otherwise known as Furntech. The AFRDI is an independent and not-for-profit organisation that provides standards, testing, research and product certification to aid both consumers and producers of furniture. An office chair that has been tested and certified by the AFRDI is guaranteed to be safe and functional. The AFRDI also test chairs for durability, so that each piece tested by the AFRDI is relatively environmentally sustainable.
The AFRDI test the safety and functionality of height adjustable and swivel office chairs, visitors’ chairs, plastic monobloc chairs and many more pieces of industrial, commercial and domestic furniture. For chairs, the AFRDI test the important qualities of strength, durability, stability, flammability and ergonomics against current Australian standards. Two separate standards cover these requirements of chairs for office, being AS/NZS 4438 and AFRDI 142.
Most office chairs made in Australia are tested against the AS/NZS 4438:1997 – Height adjustable swivel chairs standard. AFRDI uses a system of levels, from level 4 to level 6, to judge chairs against the standard requirements, making choosing which chair is right for your office a simpler process.
An AFRDI certified level 6 chair will meet most of the commercial requirements. This means that a level 6 chair can withstand heavy and prolonged use, even in harsh conditions. A level 6 office chair could be used in heavy industry, police stations or military departments. Level 5 certified chairs are suitable for slightly lighter use and less severe conditions, but are still recommended for heavy duty office use. An AFRDI certified level 4 chair, on the other hand, is better suited to regular office use, from general keyboard applications to executive use.
The general standard AS/NZS 4438:1997 is suitable for users weighing 110 kg and less. The standard, AFRDI 142 – Rated load, has been developed to test chairs that cater for people that weigh more than 100 kg. This standard takes into consideration how many total hours a week users are expected to be sitting on the office chairs and the length of the work period to give an accurate judgement of the chair’s strength under heavy loads.