Test Protocol

Coffin and Casket Testing Protocol & Coffin Certification Scheme

Over the last two years, the FFMA has been working with the cremation sector to ensure that all coffins presented for cremation are fit for purpose. This follows a number of dangerous incidents and mishaps caused by the coffin failing, or not behaving in the normal manner, upon auto-charging and cremation.

In order to ensure compliance and safe operation by all, the FFMA is to run a “Coffin Certification” Standard. Coffins and caskets, which have passed the tests, will be appropriately tagged. In order to ensure that best standards and impartiality are applied, the testing has been contracted to an outside United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited testing company, and all the relevant results will be published, as required, via an online website. The FFMA believes this is a major step forward to ensuring that high standards are maintained across the trade, and that the initiative will be welcomed by all crematoria and funeral directors. The FFMA has many coffin manufacturer and supplier members who agreed to participate in the initiative, which was rolled out in January 2015. It is anticipated that crematoria will adopt the certification and will work with the funeral trade to ultimately ensure that only coffins with the approved standard are presented for cremation. To this end, we would encourage all funeral directors to use up their old stock, as it is envisaged that crematoria will only accept coffins bearing the Coffin Standard from June 2015.

During the consultation period, the FFMA has liaised with funeral trade organisations who have offered their support and backing for the initiative. For more information, please view the FFMA website, or contact your coffin supplier directly. Full details of the Testing Protocol will be available from mid-January 2015. At this time, more information will be available, so please view the website or contact your coffin supplier directly.

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Outline of tests performed


The Issue - Coffin strength scenario 

Test this by loading the coffin with a specified load, then they check for deformation or failure. If the coffin remains within the agreed parameters it passes.


The Issue - Slip functionality scenario:

A ) Intertek test by placing the coffin on rollers to see if it moves freely without any snagging.

B ) The same procedure but on roller bearings. 

If the coffin snags or sticks it fails.


The Issue - Auto charger scenario

To simulate the auto charger, the coffin is placed against a solid load and pressure is applied to the end of the coffin with various loads. If the coffin distorts or breaks beyond the agreed tolerance it fails.


The Issue - TABO - Mechanical Insertion Machine

The TABO charger only exists in a dozen or so crematoria, but none the less, suppliers understand that once the coffin is sold, they don’t know where it is going to ends up. On equipment to replicate the TABO charger, check the coffins performance. If it snags or sags on loading pins, it fails.


The Issue - Ignition/radiant heat scenario

When the Coffin is presented for cremation, the cremator door opens and it’s exposed to very high temperatures. The Coffin cannot catch fire until it is securely in the cremation chamber. Test sample material. They expose the sample to the heat source for a given length of time and temperature. If it catches fire, it fails


The Issue - High volume of Ash scenario

Take representative of coffin and burn back to Ash. By calculation, knowing the type and size of coffin and the size of the person, they can predict the size of the ash volume generated. If the material is submitted on calculation gives more than 6 litres, then it would be a fail.


The Issue - Handle breakage scenario

Some Coffins claim their handles are suitable for carrying. Those that do need to be independently tested to ensure an overall standard. Load the handle with the agreed weight. If it breaks or deforms beyond the agreed parameter, then it would be a fail


The Issue - Ash Residue scenario

Take a sample of the coffin material and test burn on a ceramic surface. If the ash is not free from unmanageable residue or anything that may cause an issue, it is a fail.


The Issue - Coffin Leakage scenario

Take sample of material folding this into a cone and filling it with a solution to replicate bodily fluids. If it leaks, it fails.

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