Why it’s worthwhile investing in sustainability and health.
“Is office work as dangerous as labouring in the mines used to be? Does teamwork guarantee happiness? Does a new carpet make employees sick? Weekly paper Die Zeit questioned occupational health practitioners about the wellbeing of Germany’s workforce in one of its recent editions.
The general gist of what they said was that people’s health profiles have changed over the last few decades. Thanks to global health and safety, people are not exposed to direct danger as they used to be. Admittedly stress phenomena and resulting diseases are widespread … and sometimes no less hazardous. Alongside respiratory disease, mental and behavioural issues are considered the second most frequent causes of absence from work. Musculo-skeletal and connective tissue conditions are the reasons cited most often. While back problems due to lack of movement results in sick leave, others also suffer from “sick building syndrome”: They complain of headaches and nausea, which they blame on fumes coming from the furniture or carpets.
Can the office environment contribute towards minimising absences?
Offering employees a working environment in which they feel comfortable and have enough space for their own needs can be important as a determining factor when it comes to health promotion. But what needs should be met by the office outfitting? There are fixed rules governing this: First and foremost everything should be made of materials that pose no hazard to health and – think ergonomics and noise reduction – encourage a healthy, efficient and motivated attitude to work.
Johannes Andreas Brennig, who is responsible for product ecology and certification at König + Neurath, describes the challenge like this: “People in Central Europe spend an average of 90 per cent of their time indoors these days. That makes it all the more important to make sure they have a healthy air quality indoors. By choosing non-hazardous materials, we can be sure that our products meet stringent emission and hazardous substance standards. We can evidence this through independent testing.”
König + Neurath products have been awarded many certificates relating to their hazardous substance content, emissions, longevity and product safety. We decided to use testing procedures that fulfil the highest standards at national and international level. In the course of sustainability evaluation in line with the American BIFMA-LEVEL® standard, we subjected most of the chair and office furniture portfolios to an emissions analysis. All programs evaluated achieved certification in line with SCS Indoor Advantage Gold. In addition to this emission analysis, König + Neurath has also subjected the key products to hazardous substances and emissions testing by TÜV Rheinland LGA Products GmbH. This level of certification offers a particularly high level of confidence thanks to annual monitoring.
Our products carry the following product and sustainability certificates:
- Tested safety (the GS mark): Guarantees that our products fulfil the quality and safety standards set down in the German Product Safety Act.
- Ergonomics label: Ensures that product handling is straightforward and efficient, keeping health effects and physical strain to a minimum even when used for long periods.
- Quality Office: This is a quality mark that combines many criteria for high-quality products, competent advice and tailored service, and it represents good office furniture.
- TÜV material and emission testing: Hazardous substance and emission levels in our products are zero or strictly limited, minimising the risk to health as a result of using the products. We test to higher standards than required legally.
- Indoor Advantage Gold: Risk-based emissions testing. Ensures compliance with strict emission limits.
- BIFMA LEVEL: Evaluates the four categories Materials, Energy & atmosphere, Health of people and ecosystem, and Social responsibility across three performance tiers. This allows it to be termed a comprehensive sustainability standard. All of our products undergoing analysis achieved LEVEL 2.
Sussebach, H. (2019 October 30). Infarkte auf allen Ebenen. Die Zeit, p. 26f.
Umweltbundesamt: (2017, November 07). The Sick Building Syndrome. Last visited on 13.11.2019, at
Umweltbundesamt (2019, May 09): German Committee on Indoor Guide Values. Last visited on 15.11.2019, at