Office Chairs

The ergonomics of office chairs

Office chairs, as their name suggests, are used in the office and usually come in a comfortable design with adjustable options and swiveling capacity.

As common as this piece of furniture is, one may wonder when this trend of having chairs specifically made for the desk or computer began to come in use.

In the middle of the 1800s, businesses started to shift from the family business model into larger ones wherein administrative and other additional staffs were needed. This gradual shift also included an increase in interest into office equipment and furniture that may increase or enhance employee productivity. One part of this interest was the design and use of the office chairs.

The design of the office chairs was focused on allowing the employee to stay seated on the chair for long periods of time. The employee was given the ability to easily move around and reach close objects by placing rotating capability and wheels on their office chairs. The office chairs also had a good seat design to fit the body and back and arm rests for increased support and comfort. They can also be adjusted to increase comfort, hopefully to also increase productivity.

The concept of ergonomics came into the consciousness of office chair designers in the 1970s. Thus, the modern office chairs have backrests, armrests and heights that can be adjusted. The purpose of this is to reduce the incidence of repetitive stress injuries and back pain due to long stretches of sitting. The office chairs should thus provide the support and comfort appropriate to their users.

Tips on Choosing an Ergonomic Office Chair

The Division on Occupational Health and Safety has provided several recommendations on choosing office chairs.

Casters & Base - It is best to choose a chair with casters or wheels and a 5 point base in order to reduce the possibility of tipping and to provide ease in moving around.

Seat - This is the part of the office chair that carries almost all of the weight of the user. The front portion of the seat should slope downwards so that there is a small space exists between it and the back of the thigh. Tilt adjustments will also be a good feature in order to allow for changes in position.

Back Rest - An important function of the back rest of office chairs is to provide proper support for the lumbar spine. It should be small enough so that it is just right for the small of the back. It should also be curved so that is fits the lumbar area and render proper support. Poor support adds stress on the back. Some office chairs are even designed to have mechanisms for lumbar adjustments.

The angle adjustment of the back rest is different from the tilt mechanism. The former changes the angle of the seat pan relative to the back rest, while the latter moves the seat with the back and still maintains the same angle between them.

Armrests - Armrests should be at least 2 inches in width to provide enough area to place the arms and are best made of soft materials. Adjustable heights will also be a good feature.

Height Adjustment - this is an important quality of office chairs. This hydraulic mechanism can adjust the height of the seat so that the persons feet can rest on the floor or footrest and at the same time maintain good alignment with computer components.

Chair Recline or Tilt - This attribute allows the entire seat of office chairs to change its angle relative to the floor. It can thus change from the upright position to a reclining position. It is a good feature of office chairs so that body position can be altered during the day.