Chairs and Weight Limits

Just about every person in the entire world owns at least one chair. Even if it’s an upside-down milk crate, we have to sit somewhere, right? I happen to be a person who thinks a lot about chairs. I like the way they look, the amazing varieties in which they are made, the way designs cross cultures and time.

I’d like to take a moment to discuss an issue that’s been on my mind lately. It might seem a bit odd or off-center, but I think you’ll see the logic behind my concerns.

For good or ill, we live in a very litigious society. People sue each other all the time, whether they have good cause or not. Millions, possibly billions of dollars are spent every year paying legal fees and settlements for these lawsuits, especially in personal injury cases. I guess a lot of people see these cases as get-rich-quick schemes. Sadly, they’re right.

Right about now, you might be wondering what all of these concerns have to do with chairs. Well, I’ll tell you.

Along with the increasing number of lawsuits, another unfortunate trend on the rise is obesity. More and more Americans are crossing the line between being healthy and being overweight, and the trend is getting worse. Fatter people are heavier people. I know enough about chairs to say that not every chair is built to hold very large person. In fact, many common chairs are not safe for people over a certain weight.

By not acknowledging this, you are putting yourself at risk for being sued by a person who comes to your property and hurts himself when he sits in one of your chairs and it buckles underneath him.

Here are two examples of types of chairs that are most susceptible to this problem.

Anything suspended: Chairs that hang from the ceiling, hammocks, or porch-swing like chairs are particularly high risk. If you purchase one of these chairs, be sure to check the packaging for the weight limit. You might be surprised at how low it is! Take heed of the number, and stick to it. You might regret it if you don’t. If you have built your own hammock or swing, use good judgment and be sure your guests don’t overload it.

Folding chairs: That rickety folding lounge chair you’ve had since 1972 may be a loved favorite, but it can pose a risk. Many low-cost folding chairs [] (especially beach chairs, camping chairs and other outdoor chairs) are not very sturdy and can easily buckle under unexpectedly. If you have old beach chairs, you might want to invest in some new ones before you have your hefty in-laws over for a backyard barbeque. Also, many indoor-use folding chairs can break easily when their weight limits are exceeded. Again, older, cheaply manufactured chairs are most susceptible.

Most wood, metal or hybrid wood-and-metal chairs are sturdy and have high weight limits. If you primarily use these types of chairs then you probably have little to worry about. Even so, whenever you buy new chairs of any kind, be sure and know their weight limits. Adhere to them, and you and your guests will always sit in comfort and safety.