Adjustable Chair is a Key Tool for Workstation Well-being
Did you know that the starting place for each office ergonomic evaluation begins with the chair? The reason for this is that the chair accounts for about 80% of a worker’s physical contact with the workstation. A chair with multiple adjustment capabilities is ideal because this not only allows an individual worker to adjust to a multitude of work heights or work stations, but also the chair can adjust to physically fit different workers who occupy a shared workstation. A worker who sits all or most of a workday can also vary his or her sitting posture frequently throughout the day to avoid postural fatigue.
- A quality chair should have a five-point base in a star configuration with casters. Casters are available for both carpet and hard surfaces, so choose the most appropriate caster for the surface the chair will predominately be used on. Try to avoid using mats under chairs as they can present a safety hazard.
- The cushioned seat, also called the seat pan, needs to be wide enough to comfortably support the worker’s hips and long enough from front to rear to support all but roughly 2” of the upper leg when seated. It is extremely important to maintain this 2” space between the front of the chair and the back of the worker’s knee when seated so circulation is not affected by the chair. Additionally, the seat pan should be height adjustable and tilt adjustable to enable the user to tilt the seat pan forward, level, and backward to allow seating position changes during the workday.
- If armrests are preferred, they should be adjustable in height and able to move forward and backwards. Armrests should be adjusted to lightly support arms when elbows are bent to 90° and shoulders are relaxed. Armrests typically aren’t recommended for workers unless they have shoulder and/or neck pain.
- The seatback should be height adjustable and offer a tilt adjustment. Ideally, the seatback will tilt and lock in a 90°, reclined, and forward tilt position. The seatback should also offer lumbar support in the lower back region.
- Most chairs have multiple operational paddles to perform chair adjustments. The chair paddles should be within easy reach of the user and labeled so that various areas can be adjusted in isolation from others.
With this new knowledge about what makes a great, ergonomic chair, you certainly won’t look at chairs in the same way again. They are definitely an important tool for a healthy workstation!