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why is ergonomic chair important?

Updated: Jul 16

What is an Ergonomic Chair? An ergonomic chair is designed to accommodate a range of users, though it may not perfectly suit everyone. For instance, a chair could be too high or the armrests too far apart for a shorter, slimmer individual. Additionally, ergonomic chairs might not be suitable for every task or workstation setup. A chair is only truly ergonomic if it fits the worker's body dimensions, their specific workstation, and the tasks they need to perform. These factors must be considered when choosing a chair.

Why is Finding the Right Chair So Important? Sitting for extended periods can lead to serious occupational health and safety issues. Even jobs that require less muscular effort can still pose injury risks. Office workers, assembly-line employees, and data entry operators often experience back pain, muscle tendwerness, and other discomforts. Additionally, prolonged sedentary time is linked to health problems like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and poor mental health, regardless of physical activity levels. For more information, refer to the OSH Answers document “Working in a Sitting Position.”

What Do You Need to Know About Selecting a Good Ergonomic Chair? When adopting an ergonomic approach, sitting is viewed as a specific activity influenced by how a person interacts with their environment. Key considerations include:

  • One chair does not fit everyone. Chairs should match users' body dimensions to avoid strain.

  • Collect data on the user's height, as optimal seat height is about one-quarter of body height.

  • Different activities require different chairs, such as those needed by dentists versus computer operators.

  • Consider maintenance and repair costs, and consult the manufacturer for inspection guidelines.

Features of a Good Chair:

  • Adjustability: Ensure the seat height is adjustable.

  • Seat Height Range: Adjustability to the height recommended for users, allowing them to sit with feet on the floor or on a footrest without thigh pressure.

  • Backrest: Adjustable vertically and front-to-back with firm lumbar support without pressure points.

  • Seat Depth: Suitable for both tall and short users, providing support without pressure behind the knees.

  • Seat Width: Wide enough for comfortable and even pressure, allowing posture adjustments.

  • Seat Angle: Adjustable to support feet on the floor or footrest, preventing sliding or undue weight on feet.

  • Seat Surface: Comfortable, breathable materials that minimize heat and moisture buildup. Other materials may be needed for infection control in certain workplaces.

  • Armrests: Provide even support, adjustable in height and width. They may need adjustment or removal if they hinder proximity to the desk and keyboard.

  • Stability: Ensure stability, with a five-point base recommended.

Other Features to Consider:

  • Features that enhance job performance, such as adjustable armrests for computer operators.

  • Features that might hinder job performance, such as casters on chairs where stability is needed. Choose casters based on flooring type and consider brakes if necessary.

  • Controls should be operable from a seated position and logically placed.

Who Should Pick Out the Chair? Personal preference is crucial in chair selection. Once suitable chairs are identified, allow the primary users to try them in real work settings. It's beneficial to have several sample chairs for comparison to ensure they meet the workers' needs and job requirements before making a final decision.

Can a Chair Solve All Ergonomic Problems? A well-designed chair supports balanced sitting but may not solve all ergonomic issues. Proper sitting posture is still essential. The chair is one component of workstation design, which should also include a footrest (if needed), work surface, document holders, task lighting, and other adjustable elements.

Workers should be educated on the health hazards of prolonged sitting and how to adjust their workstation for various tasks. They should also be encouraged to take "active" rest periods, incorporating movement into their routine to reduce sitting time. Where possible, incorporate "activity breaks" or simple exercises into their workday.

ergonomic chair important
why is ergonomic chair important

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