The term “ergonomics” is often mis-used or misinterpreted by furniture manufacturers to label and describe chairs and other furniture. These often do not meet industry ergonomic standards or best practice guidelines and can create an injury risk.  

You want to avoid a mismatch with poor adjustability and fit between the user and their chair. This can result in sprain and strain injuries which are the leading cause of worker’s compensation claims.

What to avoid?

Any chair with limited adjustability e.g. fixed backrest angle, fixed armrests, fixed seat-pan tilt. This will result in a poor fit for the user resulting in more time spent in awkward postures.

ergonomics chair to avoid

A chair that does not raise high enough is also one of the most common design flaws in a chair. This makes it very difficult to achieve a good typing height and often requires more expenses to rectify such as an electric height desk.

Another common pitfall is not having the right depth seat-pan to the user’s height and leg length requirements. If the seat-pan depth is not deep enough then it results in thighs and the lower back not being adequately supported. This leads to discomfort and pain.

If the seat-pan depth is too long, then the chair will become uncomfortable forcing the user to perch themselves at the edge of the seat without the backrest support. 

Avoid making purchase decisions more on the aesthetics of a chair over the functionality.

The ergonomic chair

At minimum, an ergonomic chair should have 3 lever adjustments:

  1. adjustment for the backrest angle so it can be adjusted more upright or reclined back
  2. seat-pan tilt angle so feet can be more supported and
  3. seat height adjustment to allow for a good typing posture.

There should be no armrests as they interfere with being close too the desk. This is not good typing posture and will encourage awkward seating postures.

The thickness and density of cushioning should be comfortable and should be rated for a minimum use of 8 hours a day.

See more on Work Station Assessments

Further considerations

Chairs can have further adjustments such as lumbar support, backrest height adjustment and seat-pan extension which can further enhance fit and comfort for the user. Added adjustability in a chair also allows “hotdesking” to be safer and more feasible as the same chair can be shared between individuals and adjusted to individual needs.

Overall, the more adjustability a chair has, the easier it will be to achieve a good fit which is crucial for a safe workstation set-up. How much the adjustments are made will vary person to person depending on their height, body anthropometry, current or past injury and discomforts, and the existing desk and equipment being used.

For further information on an ergonomic chair or a safe workstation set-up please get in touch.