Tables Have Standards!
In our previous article, Table Base Structural Stability, we talked about what were the most important things to look for when buying a cafe table base. Now you know how to choose a sturdy metal table base, we will look at adding a table top. But first, to ensure you get the best combination, let’s explore strength and safety Standards for restaurant furniture stability.
Most large retailers who retail tables for domestic use only, insist that a manufacturer supply a product guarantee to ensure that the furniture they sell is safe. Therefore, an Industry Standard is set to:
- Safeguard the end user from buying an inadequate product;
- Ensure the manufacturer produces a product to a minimum safety standard;
- Offers a guarantee to the retailer that they are stocking a quality product.
What Is The Definition Of A Standard?
“A standard is a document that sets out requirements for a specific item, material, component, system or service, or describes in detail a particular method or procedure. Standards facilitate international trade by ensuring compatibility and inter operability of components, products and services. They bring benefits to businesses and consumers in terms of reducing costs, enhancing performance and improving safety.”
Are Standards Followed?
No! A normal restaurant table consisting of a pedestal table base and cafe table top is often never tested at all. You may ask, if there are manufacturing Standards for restaurant furniture stability, why aren’t they enforced? Because the importers of restaurant furniture import the table bases individually to the table tops and assemble them separately.
There is no accredited test for a table base on its own. Nor is there a test for table top on its own. There are only tests for complete table units (top and base). For each table base and table top combination there should be a separate strength and safety test, but there is not. Certification tests are also costly and therefore ignored. There is no authority policing restaurant furniture strength and safety standards.
Restaurant owners are accustomed to Health Inspectors examining their kitchen. Compliance to health and hygiene standards is enforced. So given restaurant customers spend most of their visit sitting on a chair at a table, why aren’t there inspectors to check restaurant furniture safety? This is surprising, given accidents caused by unstable restaurant furniture has been the reason behind a number of high profile law suits:
- Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants– burn from hot coffee spilled into a customer’s lap
- Starbucks– burn from hot tea spilled due to a loose lid and a wobbly table
- Wendy’s– burn from hot coffee spilled from a wobbly table
- Hookah Lounge– burn from hot coals due to a wobbly table.
Be Your Own Standards Inspector for your restaurant furniture stability.
When combining a separately bought table base and table top, you will need to ensure that the completed table will not topple if a load is placed on the edge of the table. Regardless of how steady your table base is, if your table top size is mismatched to your table base size you will run the risk of creating an unsafe and unstable table. You can be your own “Standards Inspector” to check if your completed table complies with a specific Standard.
Place a load onto a table top that is mounted on to a pedestal table base (as shown in the sketch below). The diagram demonstrates how to place a test weight to determine if your table complies with the “Vertical Stability Load Test” as is set by the EN/BS (European & British Standards) or ANSI/BiFMA (USA) Standards for restaurant tables. Most countries follow the EN/BS Standards.
How To Create A Stable Table for your restaurant
Four factors need to be considered when combining a table base to a table top in order to comply with a “Vertical Stability Load Test”:
TABLE BASE WEIGHT
The heavier the table base the less likely the table will topple over. As already explained in our Structural Stability article, weight costs money. So what does the ideal base weigh? There is no ideal weight on the base alone. The weight of the total table needs to be considered in a stability calculation.
When choosing a stable cafe table base you need a combination of base weight and table leg length. With a short table leg, the base must be heavy. With a lighter base, the legs must be longer. The leg length is determined by the distance between the centres of the feet (the part that touches the ground). Not the tip of the legs. In most table base designs the centre point of the table adjuster (foot) is at least 25 mm (1 inch) in from the tip of the leg. So if you purchase a base with a 22 inch (550mm) leg, the length of the leg is 20 inches (500mm).
- TABLE TOP WEIGHT
The total weight of the table contributes to the stability of a table. If your table base is lightweight it is advisable to use a slightly heavier top.
- TABLE TOP SIZE
From the diagram above (Restaurant Furniture Stability – How to test your tables for toppling stability), you will see if you keep the leg length of your base constant and make the table top larger, the further the test weight moves away from the centre of the table base. This will cause your table to be less stable and cause it to topple over. To counter the toppling effect, increase the weight of the table top without exceeding the load capacity of the base.
The Danger of adding Gizmos – Your restaurant furniture stability is destabilised
Table stabilising devices (add-ons) that you can buy can be dangerous. To fix wobbly bases, these add-ons could move the position of the stabilising foot closer to the centre of the table. This effectively destabilises your restaurant table (see following picture).
The danger of using temporary stabilizing gizmos actually increases table instability and heightens the risk of table toppling considerably. The load bearing capacity of stabilizing gizmos has not been certified and may fail to perform under a normal load.