Product safety of furniture: risk analysis

The 14 September, at the headquarters of Catas San Giovanni al Natisone, the Conference was held: Product safety of furniture: risk analysis, a transversal topic affecting the industry and its major players.

Andrea Giavon
Dr. Andrea Giavon has a degree in industrial chemistry at the University of Venice (with honors) and is one of the best connoisseurs of the rules on the safety of products placed on the market. Works for Catas from 1984 and it was the Manager for 10 years.

In the Chair Dr. Andrea Giavon, Director of Catas, which he has proved a clear and skillful speaker in illustrating the technical and regulatory aspects of this topic.

Catas is the most important reality in Europe with regard to chemical analysis, physical and mechanical testing of materials, components and products used in the sectors of wood, Interior design and construction. It has two operation centers, San Giovanni al Natisone (UD) and Lissone (MB), with excellent cutting edge laboratories and the best skilled technicians.

SICOM collaborates with the Catas for testing electrified furniture and shares the same concern for safety.

Not everyone knows this but most fatal accidents do not happen down the street, by plane and neither for violent cause home. Yes, right at home, between those walls that in all countries of the world are synonymous with safety, protection. Objects and accessories we love most can become dangerous sources if, before being put on the market, It is not made a thorough analysis of the risks.

The Conference "product safety of furniture: risk analysis "was arranged precisely in conjunction with the publication of the new version of the Guide to the application of the machinery directive.

The guide speaks specifically of furniture with moving parts (motorized movement) subject to the application of this directive. A directive, If properly adopted, becomes a real tool for complete security of products.

Safety standards established by the European Commission are determined according to the update of statistics on accidents in the home, statistics that you learned at the Conference by Dr. Giavon. After talking about numbers, the rapporteur has invited the audience to reflect on the responsibilities related to the products we use every day, including those seemingly harmless.


The theme is indeed vast and touches on several areas of industry, including companies that produce furniture and accessories not electrified, subject in turn to general product safety directive.

To help understand how the product of furniture is inextricably linked to the issue of safety, Dr. Giavon gave the example of an armchair and foot rest with manual recliner. A session we add, widespread and that, in the popular imagination, is synonymous with relaxation and evenings by the fireplace.

Well, the comfortable recliner, While not falling under the machinery directive (because it is not driven by a motor) It has several risks. The most exposed group is that of babies crawling, followed by children and, shortly after, from a risk of tipping, cuts across all ages.

The 3-step method
The 3-step method is one of the important steps of the current guidance on the application of the machinery directive and establishes the priorities which we quote in full and, Although it is mentioned in the machinery directive, It is intended to be applied in the assessment of safety in relation to other directives.
Step 1 = first priority – Inherently safe design measures;
Step 2 = second priority – Technical protective measures;
Step 3 = third priority – Information for users.
According to the method, who designs, must treat the risk according to three different levels. The first level is the safest, that is where the danger is completely removed. The second level, Instead, is one in which cannot be eliminated the causes of risk but technical measures are taken to protect users from the effects of these causes.
The third, and last, is that where before we proceed with the possibility of protective measures do not provide the end customer detailed instructions on when at risk.
The invitation for the manufacturer is to design always risks by applying the highest possible level of this scale, using all the tools that the knowledge and the technology of the moment offer.
Also it is stated that the increase in the cost of the product because of the security is not considered a valid reason for not applying the precautions pertaining to the top level.

In the analysis phase” He clearly stated Dr. GiavonWe must consider both the normal and abnormal use, but to be expected. For example an armchair, Although designed for a single person, Sometimes hosts two or even three, crosswise or on the arm. In the example cited, overturning may be caused by overloading or by the collapse structure that has very serious consequences involved.”

The question is, How do you assess these risks? Fortunately there are national standards, European and international standards to evaluate them and they must be respected.

At the Conference, Dr. Andrea Giavon was firm in emphasizing the obligation to certify products making all appropriate risk assessments. Even, and especially, with the help of specialized testing labs that, following the process from start to finish, assist the motherhouse in introducing a safe product on the market to protect the end user as well as the company itself.

The rapporteur pointed out how many entrepreneurs neglect these aspects. The CE certification of the product is not the point of arrival, but the starting point. The parent company, who better than others knows the risks involved in its lines, and that the EC indicates as the only person responsible for the item of furniture, should assess and remediate risks possibly making use of consultants and specialized structures to support him in this task.” said Dr. Giavon.

Despite the public, composed largely by entrepreneurs in the sector home and furniture components, appeared quite impressed by the words of Dr. Giavon, his message is positive because risk analysis is a great help for businesses.

Ended the Conference asked for a comment to Dr. Roberto Passini, Administrator of Sicom.

Roberto Passini
Dr. Roberto Passini, After graduating in physics, has taken the first steps in his research career, first in the United Kingdom JET Joint Undertaking (European Research Center for controlled thermonuclear fusion, located in Oxfordshire, U. K) and then the synchrotron in Trieste. In 1994 passes to the industrial sector with a first assignment, as head of test and certification, at Telital, a manufacturer of mobile phones. In 2003 Fonda Sicom which still today is the managing.

“In the electronics industry we felt these changes on safety for several years. The turning point came in around the year 2001. This represented a watershed in the following years between who has evolved and who doesn't.

Companies that have realized the importance of safety tests, relying on expert centres, increased sales and reduced their liability in case of accidents. Those that, for fear of the costs, They ignored the standards have been overwhelmed by the evolution of the market and, in the worst cases, had to answer to the law and collect the products on the market.”

Always on the subject is in the process of organizing a new Conference, expected in the first half of 2018, dealing with specifically delicate theme of electrical products of furniture When Dr. Roberto Passini by Sicom was invited to be one of the speakers.

Dr. Giavon It was very clear. Risk assessment is a direct responsibility of the production company, there is no way out. What, at first glance, may appear as an extra charge, or rely on laboratories specialize in testing, actually represents the largest and safest investment for entrepreneurs, lifting them from civil liability and making them much more competitive both in Italy and abroad.

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