Poor Seating Can Affect Performance and Productivity: Are Your Workers Sitting Comfortably?

Poor seating can negatively affect physical and emotional wellbeing, work performance and productivity. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has estimated that back pain costs UK employers up to £625 million per year. Continuous sitting on poor seating cannot be maintained for the whole of one’s working life. So what makes a good office chair and how should it be selected?

7 Tips for Selecting the Correct Chair

  1. The seat needs to be adjustable so that both feet can rest comfortably on the floor. The seat pan should stop the pelvis from tilting away and support physiologically the ‘right’ sitting. The seat should permit both active and dynamic sitting, i.e. between a forward, upright and laid-back posture.
  2. The backrest should be high enough to reach at least the shoulder blades. There should be a gap between the back and the seat pan for the buttocks. Some backrests have a tilting mechanism which adjusts with the worker. This can provide comfort in a wide range of working positions.
  3. Armrests: whilst not essential, they can provide comfort, as they can take the weight of 8-10kg, i.e. the arms, which would otherwise simply hang on the shoulder girdle, causing fatigue. Armrests should be set back from the front edge of the seat or be adjustable to allow the chair to fit under the desk.
  4. Chairs should be mobile, i.e. have castors, to provide flexibility where workers need to move from one location to another. Ensure the correct type of castor is selected, e.g. for hard floors or carpeted areas.
  5. Adjustments may include seat height, backrest height and tilt. Adjustment controls should be easy to use from a sitting position.
  6. Weight: no one weighing more than 16 stone should use a gas-lift chair, unless it is one which has been specially designed to accommodate larger persons.
  7. Upholstery: the seat, backrest and armrests should be well padded to ensure user comfort and reduce the likelihood of damage. Upholstery should meet BS 7176:2007 in respect of resistance to ignition.

Follow these tips and you will be able to demonstrate that you have taken steps to avoid posture-related problems and injuries and will be able to defend any claims that arise.

If your staff require an assessment of their workstation, please contact us.

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