The average office employee can spend up to eight hours a day at their desk, most of it sitting down. While necessary for commerce, spending so long in a chair is not what our bodies are designed for and such long periods of seated inactivity and poor posture can place an unnatural strain on the human physique. That’s why it’s important that companies provide their staff with ergonomic chairs which can go a long way to mitigating these problems.
According to the HSE, in 2018/19 nearly half a million people suffered from work-related musculoskeletal disorders and nearly seven million working days were lost as a result. This illustrates how protecting your employees will protect your business, and the best way of doing this is by providing ergonomic chairs.
Ergonomic furniture allows individual employees to customise their seating and working environment relative to their desk height, screen height, keypad and own body shape. Pressure on the neck and shoulders is reduced resulting in a healthier, happier working environment.
The science of ergonomics
Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. Ergonomists study how people interact with their office surroundings and work closely with designers to create seating solutions to rectify common workplace issues.
An ergonomic chair takes these principles into account, actually helping employees adopt and maintain a better working posture, which will protect them from the painful posture-related issues associated with unfit seating. When set-up correctly, staff will be comfortable throughout the day, and their work becomes more effective and productive.
Key attributes of an ergonomic chair
Chairs with added lumbar support that push in the small of the back, recreate the body’s natural curve and prevent our backs from rounding. When sitting, your chest will be sticking out and your shoulders somewhat pulled back. A person looking at you side on would see your ears lined up with your shoulders.
Range of adjustment
Being able to change the height of the lumbar support, the height of the seat and the armrests are important components to finding the position that will minimise the strain on your back, neck, and arms. An ergonomic chair will usually have a pneumatic gas lift so you can adjust the height you are sitting at to suit you. The right height will ensure your forearms are in-line with your desk. If your feet do not remain flat on the floor in this position, then you will need a footrest.
Seat width and depth adjustment
Adjusting the depth of your chair will determine how much support your thighs receive. The space you need between the chair and the back of your knees is roughly three fingers wide. An ergonomic chair will have a seat slider so that you can achieve this easily.
Fully adjustable armrests
Your arm position can have a dramatic impact on your comfort and, surprisingly, your back pain. Armrests reduce the pressure on your spine, making it easier to maintain good posture and find a comfortable typing position.
They should be adjusted so that there is a comfortable 90° angle through the forearm when the shoulders are relaxed. Ergonomic armrests usually have width adjustment so that they can remain close to the body. The top of the armrest may also rotate so that you can sit as close to the desk as is comfortable.
Seat, armrests and backrests are well padded with firm, high quality material to ensure lasting comfort. Chair covers need to be made out of non-slip, breathable fabric to keep you comfortable whatever the temperature.