The importance of safety and quality in height adjustable tables and workstations, by Bruce Wells.
They have arrived. After years of toe-in-the-water contemplation by real estate and facilities executives, height adjustable workstations are now being specified for everyone.
I won’t comment on the associated health benefits, which individuals rely upon to offset the negative impacts of “sitting too much.” Height adjustability in the workplace can’t hurt, right?
Or can it?
As someone who has developed height adjustable solutions for clients over many years, I can confidently say that customers now seem to be committing to these workstations because they are suddenly more affordable. Competition has made them affordable. But competition has also driven many manufacturers in a race to the bottom regarding quality, functionality, and most disconcertingly, safety.
We demand that machine operators, carpenters and electricians be properly certified in their field of work to ensure their own safety as well the safety of others. However, we provide only optional guidelines to the soon-to-be millions of motorized desk operators in the US.
There are some products on the market with built-in sensors to stop and reverse the operation of an adjustable desk upon contact with an obstruction – whether an object or worse, a human obstruction like hands and fingers. At Innovant, we refuse to compromise safety and have made this capability standard for all our adjustable height products. This anti-collision technology was initially developed to protect the motor within the desk, but it offers a significant safety feature for users. Of course, a feature like this costs a little bit more.
Not only do furniture RFPs rarely indicate this as a mandatory performance requirement, few people ever ask what level of anti-collision sensitivity is built into the products they buy because they don’t know what a “safe level” means. As a result, we now have an influx of questionable quality machinery, (particularly from low-cost manufacturing regions) getting incorporated into furniture here in the US. These come with little to no collision sensitivity built in – all in an effort to make “health conscious” furniture “affordable.”
Accidents are usually rare in a data pool. But when the numbers of that pool grow as we reach millions of motorized, adjustable height pieces of furniture, it’s time to start asking questions about the safety expectations of these products.