While we are still in the midst of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to learn what office furniture manufacturers are developing to help make the return the workplace as safe as possible. In this series, we will explore various aspects of furniture in the office environment and attempt to offer ideas for end-users, architects and purchasers of furniture to make sound decisions that match their culture and budget while providing a safe work environment.
While its been said there is no fabric which will instantly kill a virus, many manufacturers are beginning to develop innovative seating solutions which provide peace of mind in multi-user/multi-use areas and also allow for easy cleaning and durability without compromising ergonomics and respite.
Copper Mesh - Leading the way in innovative seating is Via Seating. They have developed a variety of stack, task and nesting chairs which incorporates the use of copper mesh. Some of the benefits of using copper mesh include:
- Biocidal: naturally kills harmful micro-organisms
- Self-sanitizing: but can be bleached cleaned
- Anti-fungal: kills bacteria within 20 minutes of contact
- Anti-odor: kills bacteria that create odor within 20 minutes
- Anti-viral: COVID-19 - too early to evaluate fully however, COVID-19 was shown to be stable on plastic, cardboard, and stainless steel from 24 hours up to three days. On copper, no viable virus was found after four hours
Note: Copper Infused Mesh is already approved for stringent requirements of Infectious Disease Control areas in hospitals. These mesh backs physically embed copper into the fibers of the mesh. The process will not wear off like topically applied alternatives. The result is a naturally self-sanitizing copper mesh that inhibits the spread of respiratory viruses.
Vinyl & Leatherette – While vinyl and leatherette fabric are not new to seating, each offers the ability to frequently sanitize with bleach, dish soap & warm water, and even anti-bacterial sprays/wipes without discoloring the surface. Most seating manufacturers already offer vinyl as an option for task chairs, side chairs and stools.
Anti-Microbial Upholstery & Polypropelene – Like vinyl, most manufacturers already make seating with anti-microbial fabrics and plastics. Many of these surfaces can also be sanitized and disinfected by cleaning with bleach, dish soap & warm water and some anti-bacterial wipes/sprays. It’s important to note, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates antimicrobial products as pesticides, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates antimicrobial products as drugs/antiseptics.
- As pesticides, antimicrobial products are used on objects like work surfaces or in textiles.
- As antiseptics, antimicrobial products are used to treat or prevent diseases on people, pets, and other living things.
While materials have always been rigorously tested for cleaning, they haven’t always been tested for disinfection capability. The coronavirus has accelerated testing of how such materials and products react to disinfecting solutions. What is important is ensuring your company have a set policy for sanitizing and cleaning of all furniture. However, seating is often the furniture with the most amount of prolonged contact making it more important than ever to make sure your furniture fits your budget, fits your culture and is as durable as possible.