Ergonomics is a science that studies how to improve worker productivity and prevent injuries by making work safer and more comfortable. With respect to chairs, ergonomic designs promote proper posture, provide support to key areas of the body, such as the lower back, and help prevent chronic injuries that may occur with chairs not designed with these things in mind.
It’s very important to find an ergonomic chair that fits the individual user naturally and allows work in a neutral, stress-free position. To find the best one, the user of the chair should try sitting in them, keeping a number of factors in mind.
Pick a chair with a seat pan that extends at least one inch beyond the hips and thighs on each side. The user should be able to sit back in the chair without the front edge of the seat pan rubbing against the back of the knees. The seat should be comfortable to sit on for extended periods of time.
The seat height should be adjustable. Pneumatic adjustment is best because it allows the user to adjust the height without getting out of the chair. When seated, the user should be able to adjust the height so that the user’s knees are level or slightly below the level of the seat with the user’s feet flat on the floor. Adjustment controls should be easily accessible when sitting in a chair. A tilting seat pan is normally not necessary but may help some people achieve a healthier seat posture.
Lumbar support is one of the most important considerations in choosing an ergonomic office chair. If the chair has an adjustable back, the user should check to make sure it can be adjusted up and down, and forward and back, to provide a good fit and support for the lower back. A chair without an adjustable back may be satisfactory if there will be one primary user, and the chair is a good fit. Users may also want to look for chairs that support the middle and upper back as well as the lumbar. Some chairs allow the user to recline. These are also worth searching for because a reclining position is more natural than an upright position. Being adjust and sit in different positions is good for the back.
If a chair with armrests is chosen, be sure that the armrests are broad, contoured, and comfortable. They also need to be adjustable. Ideally, they should be set so that the arms are parallel to the floor when resting on the armrests. They should also allow for adjustment closer together or farther apart.
The user should think about how mobile the chair needs to be. If the chair will be moved frequently, a 5-pedestal base is recommended. Pick a chair with casters that will move easily over the type of floor in the office.
The type of covering can influence a chair’s comfort. The most commonly available types of coverings are leather, vinyl, fabric, and nylon. Each has some advantages and disadvantages. Some factors to consider are comfort, maintenance, ease to clean, stain resistance, durability, and susceptibility to trap allergens like dust mites.
Most people will not need a footrest when using an ergonomic office chair. However, if one is necessary, it should be a free-standing footrest that can be positioned comfortably in front of the chair.