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It may not seem like an issue initially but selecting the right office chair can make all the difference to your health and wellbeing at work. Sitting for extended periods can place stress on the back, which can result in ongoing discomfort and back troubles. Taking the time to choose the correct office chair can help you avoid injury, improve productivity and ensure a comfortable sitting posture throughout the day. We asked Shane Rose, Injury Prevention Specialist and Managing Director at Prescribe Australia; a company that completes hundreds of ergonomic assessments every year to outline his key tips for choosing an office chair.
1. Your office chair is a crucial piece of workplace ergonomics
We are in the office for an average of ten hours per day with at least six of those spent at a workstation, with that, your chair needs to be comfortable and adjustable, this is crucial to your health and wellbeing.
2. Look for chairs that are adjustable
The height should be fully adjustable, easily moving up and down to suit people of different heights. I personally prefer a multifunction mechanism due to the range of adjustments on offer with independent back and seat angle adjustments.
3. Identify who will be using the chair and for what purpose
Most chairs now come with the standard adjustments. However, for people with widely varying height ranges, you may need to find a chair that can be comfortably adjusted for you. Healthcare and hospitality workers may wish to consider options with different material as well.
4. Inspect the lumbar support
Chairs without adequate lumbar support will not support your back and your lumbar spine will experience a flattening effect. The lumbar support should assist in maintaining the natural curve of your spine throughout your day.
5. Make sure the seat is the right size for you
Seat pans that are too big or too small can affect your comfort and health when using them for long periods of time. A quick test is to place two to four fingers to ensure that they fit between the back of your knee and the front of the seat.
6. Armrests may not be required
Your chair needs to fit your workstation; at times armrests can prevent you getting your chair into the correct position at your workstation and would not be recommended. If you are choosing armrests, make sure you can still fit your chair under the workstation.
7. Test the chairs in person
I believe sitting and trying the chair is just as important as researching the specifications and it is even more important than the colour. By sitting in a chair, you will be able to directly feel how comfortable it is, along with what adjustments are available.
8. Nobody is designed to sit all day
Without staying active, you are likely to experience discomfort at some stage. Try to design your workspace to encourage movement and changes in posture. Keep the printer at the other side of the room, take regular stretch breaks and even look at implementing a sit stand desk as an option.
9. Look at design options
Gone are the days of a one-size fits all. Use your imagination, your chair is something you will spend many hours in, you want to not only feel comfortable but mentally fulfilled in your workspace.
10. The biggest mistake is to ‘test’ in a relaxed position
People commonly sit in a chair in a relaxed position, lean back, and say “Oh yeah, this is the chair for me!” They forget that an office chair’s most important function is to be comfortable and supportive in your working position and not in a relaxed position.
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