New standard for bariatric seating


Furniture Industry Research Association publishes guide for manufacturers on furniture design for the obese


Obesity is becoming a major challenge for health systems around the world, with nearly 10% of all medical spending attributed to overweight patients.

This has increased demand for specialist products that will cater for larger frames, particularly in hospital and other health and care settings.

But, until now, there has been a lack of information for manufacturers developing bariatric products for people weighing in excess of 20 stone.

Now this is being addressed with the publication of a new standard by The Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA).

FS 058: 2017 Seating - Performance and dimensional requirement for bariatric seating is the result of several years of research and engagement with stakeholder who included the health service, patients, retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers to the healthcare market.

FIRA’s experts undertook interviews and fact-finding discussions 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 association’s 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 and the type of fillings needed to give adequate support to a bariatric user.

“In addition, the mobility of patients can be a significant factor as larger patients tend to be less mobile and this poses additions safety risks, both from excessive periods of inactivity and 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.”

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Following ion from this project, FIRA is now developing a dedicated standard for beds and mattresses suitable for bariatric users.