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Petitioning The European Committee for Standardization (CEN)

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN): To reassess the technical spec relating to school chairs & following further scientific research into how school furniture can affect children’s...

The Standard currently proposes that the permitted inclination of a chair seat for use in educational institutions could slope backward by minus 5 degrees. This is incredibly bad for children’s posture and health. We are urging the CEN to change the technical specification to effectively eliminate backward sloping seats altogether and introduce only flat (0 degrees) or forward-sloping (up to plus 10 degrees) chairs. This will naturally encourage children to sit correctly, support their backs and maintain good posture, concentration and health.

Children will remain at risk of suffering back pain under the latest European Standard.

As it stands, every designer and manufacturer of chairs for educational institutions across 33 European countries which work to the Standard’s guidelines, will continue to create school chairs with seats that slope backward.

This can have a detrimental effect on pupils who spend more than 15,000 hours during their school life sitting on chairs, the majority of which are backward-sloping to minus 5 degrees, sometimes more.

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Backward sloping chairs encourage children to adopt poor posture – they either hunch forward over their desks causing their spines to bend or they tense up all their muscles to maintain an upright posture. They eventually slump to seek support from the chair back and this places the weight behind the tail bone (coccyx) rather than on the sitting bones.

The European Standard, which is currently under revision,  says that it ‘is based on the principle that chairs and tables, intended for use in educational institutions for general-purpose education, should be designed to encourage good postures’. The existing scientific evidence, however, indicates that school furniture can have a harmful effect. Nevertheless, this evidence is sporadic and limited. Hence we are also calling for further crucial scientific research to be conducted into the potential health problems associated with school chairs.

It is estimated some 20 percent of children suffer back pain. As poor postural habits are a root cause of back and neck pain, continuing to allow school chairs to slope backwards will, without doubt, escalate back problems among today’s schoolchildren and for generations to come.

With almost half of the population suffering from back and neck pain at some point in their lives, it is evident that it can be a deteriorating condition which can lead to permanent injury. The cause of the damage starts at a young age and then really takes a grip later in life. Poor posture causes slow and subtle injury. It’s a little like smoking in that respect – a bad habit that has long term consequences.

We believe that the effects of such a seemingly innocuous object on the health of our children and future generations should be researched further and reviewed. It is clear that this requires a certain degree of urgency and we urge you to sign our petition to help us protect our children’s future health.

This petition was delivered to:
  • The European Committee for Standardization (CEN)

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