The safety of the furniture product: risk analysis

The entitled conference was held at the Catas headquarters in San Giovanni al Natisone The safety of the furniture product: risk analysis, a transversal topic that affects the entire furniture sector and its main operators.
In the chair the dottor Andrea Giavon, director of Catas, who proved to be a clear and skilled speaker in illustrating the technical and regulatory implications of this topic.
Catas is the most important reality at European level as regards chemical analyses, physical and mechanical tests on materials, components and products used in the wood, furniture and construction sectors.
It has two operational centers, San Giovanni al Natisone (UD) and Lissone (MB), equipped with excellent cutting-edge laboratories and the best specialized technicians.

Not everyone knows it but the majority of fatal accidents do not happen on the road, on a plane or even from violent causes but... at home. Yes, right at home, within those walls that in all countries of the world are synonymous with safety and protection. The objects and accessories we love most can turn into sources of danger if, before being put on the market, an in-depth risk analysis is not carried out.

The conference The safety of the furniture product: risk analysis it was organized to coincide with the publication of the new version of the guide to the application of the machinery directive.
The guide specifically mentions furniture with moving parts (motorized movement) as subject to the application of this directive. A directive which, if well adopted, becomes a real tool for complete product safety.
The safety standards established by European Commission are also decided on the basis of the updating of statistics on domestic accidents, statistics which were illustrated during the conference from dottor Giavon. After talking about numbers, the speaker invited the audience to also reflect on the responsibilities linked to the products we use every day, including apparently harmless ones.

Motorized sofa

In fact, the topic is broad and affects various areas of the sector, including companies that produce non-electrified furniture and accessories, which are in turn subject to General Product Safety Directive.
To make people understand how the furniture product is inextricably linked to the issue of safety, the dottor Giavon he gave the example of an armchair with a manually operated reclining backrest and footrest. A session, we add, which is very widespread and which, in the common imagination, is synonymous with relaxation and evenings spent in front of the fireplace.
Well, the comfortable reclining chair, although it does not fall under the machinery directive, because it is not powered by a motor, presents several risks. The most exposed group is that of crawling newborns, followed by children and, shortly after, by a risk of tipping over, across all ages.
“Under analysis” clearly specified the dottor Giavon “we must consider both normal use and also anomalous, but foreseeable use”. For example, an armchair which, although designed for a single person, sometimes accommodates two or even three, across or on the armrest.
In the example cited, the overturning can be caused by excessive load or structural collapse with very serious consequences for those involved".

The question is, how do we evaluate these risks?
Fortunately, there are national standards, European standards and international standards to evaluate them and they must be respected.
In the conference the dottor Andrea Giavon was firm in underlining the obligation to certify products by carrying out all appropriate risk assessments. Also, and above all, thanks to the help of specialized testing laboratories who, following the process from start to finish, assist the parent company in placing a safe product on the market to protect the end user and also the company itself.
The speaker underlined how many entrepreneurs in the sector neglect these aspects.
“The CE certification of the product is not the point of arrival, but rather the starting point.
The parent company, which better than others knows the risks associated with its lines, and which the European community indicates as solely responsible for the furnishing article, will have to evaluate and remedy the risks present, possibly making use of consultants and specialized structures that support him in this task.
” said the dottor Giavon.

Although the public, largely made up of entrepreneurs in the home and furnishing components sector, appeared quite impressed by the words of the dottor Giavon, his message is positive because risk analysis is a great help for companies.

Once the conference was over we also asked the dottor Roberto Passini, administrator of Sicom Testing:
“In the electronics sector we have been perceiving these changes in security for some years. The turning point occurred around the year 2001. In the following years this represented a watershed between those who had evolved and those who had not.
Companies that have understood the importance of safety tests, relying on specialized centers, have increased sales and reduced their liability in the event of accidents. Those who, for fear of costs, ignored the regulations were overwhelmed by the evolution of the market and, in the worst cases, had to respond to the law and withdraw the products on the market.”

Also on this topic, a new conference is being organized, scheduled for the first half of 2018, which will specifically deal with the very delicate topic of electrical furnishing products he was born in testing of motorized furniture components and of CE marking for furniture in which also the dottor Roberto Passini Of Sicom Testing was invited to be one of the speakers.

The dottor Giavon it was very clear.
“Risk assessment is the direct responsibility of the production company, there is no way out.
What, at first sight, may appear as an additional cost, i.e. relying on laboratories specialized in testing and inspection, in reality represents the largest and safest investment for entrepreneurs, relieving them from civil liability and making them much more competitive both in Italy and abroad".
Andrea Giavon

The dottor Andrea Giavon he has a degree in industrial chemistry from the University of Venice (with full marks) and is one of the best experts on the rules relating to the safety of products put on the market. He has worked for Catas since 1984 and has been its director for ten years.

The 3-step method

The 3-step method is one of the important steps of the current guide to the application of the Machinery Directive and establishes priorities that we report in full and, although it is cited in the Machinery Directive, it is intended to be applied in safety assessments relating to other directives as well .
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, those who design must treat the risk according to three different levels.
The first level is the safest, i.e. the one in which the cause of danger is entirely removed.
The second level, however, is the one in which the causes of risk cannot be eliminated but technical measures are adopted to protect users from the effects of these causes.
The third, and last, is the one in which, faced with the non-possibility of protective measures, we proceed with providing the end customer with detailed instructions on the presence of the risk.

The invitation for producers is to always design by applying the highest possible level of this scale to the risks present, taking advantage of all the tools that current knowledge and technology make available.

Furthermore, it is specified that the increase in the cost of the product due to safety is not considered a valid reason for not applying the precautions belonging to the higher level.

Sicom Testing offers a complete service for certification of lighting components, electrical products, electronic equipment and testing of motorized furniture components

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1 thought on “La sicurezza del prodotto d’arredo: analisi dei rischi”

  1. Dr. Giavon's analysis in the conference and the three-step method that she comments on how to have good furniture safety through design measures, technical protection and user information are interesting. Very useful article. Greetings.


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