Seating Innovation - The Power of Copper
Many facilities managers and business owners are now actively engaged in the planning process of bringing workers back to the office and a topic that is likely front of mind for them is how to keep the building clean and safe for everyone. This is no small task, and it will require a multi layered approach to air handling, cleaning and even a review of all the materials present in a space and how to manage them, specifically high touch surfaces.
We can turn to some of the strategies of healthcare facilities as they have been doing this high level of detail cleaning for years. Ask any interior designer or facilities manager who is involved in selecting materials for healthcare spaces and they will tell you that its all about durability and cleanability. Can I splash bleach on it…..then yes, we will consider that product. “The majority of healthcare facilities in the US require that products being used in clinical areas i.e. near patient environment, must meet the requirements for infectious disease control i.e. products that can control or prevent infections and the spread of disease.”(1) Sound familiar? These are the same requirements many facilities managers are facing right now but for general office and public spaces, not patient environments.
Durable textiles have come a long way from the old school floral or dusty pink vinyl we used to see on the waiting area seating of a hospital or doctor’s office. Now, we have countless options of beautiful and stylish bleach cleanable and high durability rub tested upholsteries you would even consider using in your home. What was missing, until recently, were anti-microbial solutions for the popular mesh backs of chairs. So, if you wanted a mesh back task chair for a nurse’s station you could find a durable upholstery for the seat, but options were limited or non-existent for the back. With these challenges, nurses and others in clinical settings were not able to take advantage of the comfort, ergonomic support, thin profile, and contemporary aesthetic of mesh back seating.
This has changed with the introduction of copper infused mesh for chair backs. Office seating manufacturers, such as Via Seating have found unique approaches to use this naturally anti-microbial material. “Via Seating found that copper was widely used in surfaces for infectious disease control purposes on door knobs, hand rails and that healthcare facilities use of copper was pervasive across the US."(1) Since copper technology is imbedded in the material and not topically applied like other anti-microbial treatments, its much more durable and effective and will not wash or rub off.
Copper has been recognized as a natural anti-microbial surface for centuries. Its even been described in ancient Egypt to be used to sterilize wounds and water.(2) Also, copper is recognized by the EPA as effective in this capacity and as of 2008 over 300 different copper surfaces have been registered. (3) So, with this history of proven scientific effectiveness why not use it in our modern office and healthcare spaces as it makes complete sense. However, we know copper is in demand as a building material and for other purposes so as demand fluctuates, what will that do for the availability and cost?
As you put your return-to-work plans in place for your associates and visitors, take a good look at copper materials as potential solutions to avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals. Also, know you have options when selecting ergonomic task chairs with desirable mesh back designs. Be Well Ergo is available to help you choose the right ergonomic furniture for your office space and consider having us do a quick walk-through of your space to identify opportunities to increase the availability and quality of your ergonomic adjustability as well as provide helpful training and other resources to support your return to work.