Half of furniture recalls from outdoor products

During the last five years, 49% of furniture recalls in Europe have been for outdoor products. Suppliers need to stay informed on modifications to product designs and updated product standards, in order to place safe products onto the market and maintain market share. They should be aware that the European Union (EU) has so far updated two outdoor furniture standards in 2017:

EN 581-1:2017 – General Safety Requirement for Outdoor Furniture
EN 581-3:2017 – Mechanical Safety Requirements for Outdoor Tables – General Updating


Outdoor furniture is recalled more than any other furniture category in Europe. Reasons include weak construction, stability problems and finger entrapment. The last cause is a particular problem in furniture with folding mechanisms – 48% of recalled outdoor products are folding chairs.


Poor construction is an obvious reason for recalls but a consistent issue has been safe products failing to comply with EU standard – EN 581-1. Manufacturers and suppliers must understand and follow this standard and its amendments, in order to get safe compliant products onto the market.


The EU has been publishing updated versions of the EN 581-series of standards since 2015. The updated versions more clearly define relevant terms and ensure the standards are relevant to the requirements of the market. An updated version of EN 581-2 was published in 2015, followed by the two updates published in 2017.


The 2017 version of EN 581-1:2017 is, in some ways, less stringent than its 2006 incarnation. It has, however, also introduced new requirements, of which manufacturers should be aware.


Changes include:

A clearer indication that the standard only relates to adult use
Revised definition of camping, domestic and contract use
Edges and corners must be assessed according to the new definitions of accessible parts for seating and tables
Requirements for gaps and holes have been removed following consideration of the issue of finger injuries relating to the end of tubular components
Risk relating to shear and squeeze points is reevaluated as some points don’t endanger the user and they now take into account the ability of the user to control their own movements
Glass-topped tables now require protection between the parasol and glass, to stop direct contact.


The new version of the standard clarifies requirements and makes it more relevant to the modern market, e.g. finger entrapment requirements have changed following the acknowledgment that several products are available on the market with holes and gaps of between seven and twelve millimeters, the size defined for children over three years of age, and have caused no incidents. Also, similar requirements do not exist for indoor adult furniture. 


By bringing greater clarity to the standard, the 2017 version also reduces the possibility of misinterpretation. The revised version also has additional information, including a definition of accessibility for sharp edges and corners. Problems of misinterpretation accounted for many of the failed products, even though objectively, and under the revised standard, they presented no risk to the user.


EN 581-3:2017 brings the standard into line with EN 1730:2012. The updated version includes a more detailed table of parameters, that are adapted to EN 1730, in place of the previous test method. By adding conformity to other standards, EN 581-3 is now providing greater clarity to the various options for table types. For example, tables without extensions, tables with extensions, tables longer than 1600mm, small tables, etc.


There are also new requirements for glass table tops in the new standard, including:

•         Fulfill the conditions of EN 12150-1:2015, Clause 8, fragmentation test match either Type B or Type C, mode of breakage (β) according to EN 12600:2002. Make sure holes for parasols are protected to prevent metal to glass contact


The updated version of the standard also makes several amendments, including:

•         A decrease in the forces used for the static load test to bring it into line with the requirements of the EN 15735 standard for non-domestic tables


The revised versions of EN 581 Parts 1-3 have made compliance easier and also strengthened the standard, by bringing greater clarity. The revisions have also impacted in other ways. For example, camping table stability has been affected by bringing EN 5813 into line with EN 1730:2012. Previously, a requirement for 200N was be applied to the table but this has been replaced by a length-dependent version. This means some long tables may fail this requirement, when they would have passed the 2008 version.


See also