Essential Office Chair Features – Part I

To have an ergonomically-friendly office chair, there are many essential features that need to be present before the chair can be called “ergonomic”.  After performing Ergonomic Evaluations for 17 years, I have learned a great deal about recommending ergonomic chairs.  I have come across people of many shapes and sizes who don’t fit into just any office chair.  Because of this, when I make my ergonomic report recommendations, I need to recommend a fully adjustable ergonomic office chair right off the bat.  If I don’t the employee will be unhappy because they will continue to be in discomfort and their employer will be unhappy if the chair I recommend has to be returned.  Therefore it’s best to get it right the first time!

The following posts will cover the 22 features I have found to be essential when recommending a chair and the reasons why.

1.    Seat pan depth

  • Many chairs have seat pans that are too long for employees with shorter than average legs.  There is also the occasion of the employees with longer legs whose legs are not fully supported by their seat pan.
  • When the seat pan depth is too deep, pressure is placed on the back of the employee’s knees causing discomfort.  As a result, the employee sits forward in their chair in a “perched” position to avoid the pressure.  This results in the employee not being able to use their back rest for support.  If the back musculature does not have support, there will be continuous muscle tension resulting in overuse of the muscles which commonly causes back discomfort and possible injury. Additionally pressure points may also cause reduced blood flow and nerve conduction.
  • The seat pan should be 19” or shorter in depth, and a seat pan slider should be present so the optimal depth can be achieved for any employee.

2.   Seat pan width

  • Many chairs have seat pans that are too small for larger size people and too big for smaller size people.
  • When the seat pan width is too small, larger size people can’t fit comfortably into their chairs.  When the seat pain width is too large, smaller size people find the contouring uncomfortable causing pressure points that reduce blood flow.
  • The seat pan should come in several different sizes to accommodate all employees.

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