The benefits of good ergonomic furniture in the office are well known. Looking at the statistics, worker absence can cost a staggering sum, prompting the question: can your business afford to overlook the best office chairs?
A 2014 report from Leeds Metropolitan University, delivered stark evidence of the link between poorly-equipped office furniture and musculoskeletal disorders in office workers.
A study of over 4,500 employees revealed over 80% had suffered from health issues on account of poor posture whilst sat at an office desk. Up to 20% had taken time off work, with the average amount of absence being 14.5 days per person.
A combination of chronic conditions and a sense of being unsupported by employers, contributed to mental health problems.
Miranda Thew, Senior Lecturer in Ooccupational Science and Occupational Therapy at Leeds Beckett University, commented: “The results of the study present strong evidence that link mental health and chronic pain, in that one can be the cause of the other and that chronic pain can often arise from musculoskeletal problems brought on by poor ergonomics.
“Conditions arising from poorly adapted computer-based workstations range from sore muscles to chronic pain or carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury, eye strain, headaches and chronic fatigue. Such conditions can lead on to reduced quality of life and therefore further reducing capacity to work.”
The results of the study present strong evidence that link mental health and chronic pain, in that one can be the cause of the other and that chronic pain can often arise from musculoskeletal problems brought on by poor ergonomics.”
Miranda Thew, Leeds Beckett University
The repercussions of absence can be astronomical for business.
In 2016, Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, reported that the previous year had cost UK businesses over 23 million working days as a result of office-related ill health. This was purported to have cost the economy £100 billion.
One of the big contributory factors were a staggering 553,000 cases of work-related musculoskeletal problems.
Whilst there is growing consensus that office workers should spend less time sitting down, the theory is not always practical. The solution lies in the need to invest in suitable office furniture.
Ideally, companies should aim to invest in chairs that fit each individual correctly and are adjustable.
Chairs should be positioned at the correct height in relation to the height of a desk.
Another alternative is the sit-stand desk, with easily adjustable heights, allowing the user to sit at the desk and to stand at it, keeping the body moving regularly during the course of the day.
What constitutes a good office chair?
There are a variety of factors that contribute to a good office chair, but it is worth considering that our bodies are all different shapes and sizes and therefore there is no one solution that fits all scenarios.
However, there are a number of fundamental elements that go into designing the ideal ergonomic chair.
A chair should be stable from the ground, but also capable of moving with the body. The height of the seat should be adjustable to enable its occupant to work in comfort without over-reaching. Similarly, the backrest should be adjustable, with a strong lumbar providing support.
The armrest is an important aspect and should suit the worker’s size for comfort, but also take into account the work being undertaken.
Peter Opsvik, a Norwegian industrial designer, argues the case for the armrest, explaining: “how when we are seated, our arms require both freedom to move and lots of opportunities for support.”
He says that armrests help to alleviate the load placed on the back by the weight of our arms and hands. Furthermore, when undertaking activities, an armrest can offer support which reduces strain on the muscles. Chairs with adjustable armrests can offer more flexibility for the user if they are height or width adjustable, ensuring great comfort.
When we are seated, our arms require both freedom to move and lots of opportunities for support.”
Peter Opsvik, Industrial Designer
The size of the seat is another key element to good seat design. It is suggested that the seat length should support part of the thigh end before reaching the back of the knee. If the seat is too short the worker has less support along their leg, which can result in more pressure on the back of the thigh.
The seat’s width is important too, as if it is too narrow, parts of the body may hang off the side and create pressure points.
A world of choice
Over the years, iQ Workspace has developed a large and varied network of office chair suppliers, both nationally and internationally.
The modern office chair design is competitive and takes into account the science behind the theory to what makes a good office chair.
Why not get in touch with us today, to discuss your office chair needs?