SEFA Defines Performance Standards for Lab Grade Seating
Given the degree of risk and safety common to Science and Technology research lab environments, it’s very customary that most types of equipment or supplies used are bound or regulated by some well-defined performance standards or compliance testing requirements. However, in the case of seating specifically intended for Laboratories, documented criteria and industry expectations have gone undefined until November 2022. The Lab Grade Seating standard SEFA-12, produced and endorsed by the Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association (SEFA), is the first known global publication of the unique specifications and product definitions required for a chair to be qualified for the rigors of lab environments.
Unfortunately, it has been very common for lab managers or facilities managers historically to be without appropriate knowledge or be misinformed about chairs that are uniquely designed for labs. Additionally, up until now, lab planners at Architectural + Design firms have not had a reference tool or resources designed to help them properly call out the necessary specifications required in a project FF&E bid package. As a result, after decades of lab design evolution, you often see chairs primarily designed
for office workstations mistakenly used in Bio-Pharma-Chemical research labs. “It is long overdue that some standards be addressed and available given the complexities and prevalence in today’s commercial labs for harsh bacterial, chemical and/or cleaning agents,” observed David Sutton, Executive Director of SEFA.
The Lab Grade Seating (SEFA-12) standard contains a generic, universal definition that applies to all seating manufacturers who produce chairs for commercial application. It includes extensive independent testing requirements of chair components and materials performing against 49 of the most common chemicals used in lab settings. Scientists and researchers also work very differently than traditional office workers, therefore, certified lab-grade seating may support them in superior ways. Mr. Sutton also said, “The process for us to get to an endorsed standard was an exhaustive one that covered every element of the chair to ensure when a lab decides to make a purchase, they will have a very strong basis to know a product meets the right levels of durability, ergonomic function, cleanability and design intent. SEFA’s Board of Directors is very proud of the efforts and the contributions from our lab seating membership and it will mean something for a chair manufacturer to say they can fully comply with our Standard. It is important to note that during the 4-year process to create the standard many of the world’s leading lab architects and planners were involved in drafting and finalizing the standard.”
The SEFA-12 Standard can be referenced on the SEFA website at www.sefalabs.com or provided by a participating SEFA lab seating manufacturer member. Future enhancements to the initial standard will expand upon the definitions of lab grade criteria to include facility areas sensitive to ESD (Electro-Static Discharge) control, Cleanroom contamination control and ergonomic factors.
Post submitted by Mark Scelfo, US Managing Director, Bimos Lab Seating (SEFA-12 Seating Co-Committee Sponsor)