The Ergonomic Chair

By gildalit

Ergonomic Chair

ergocloud ergonomics

In many ergonomic consultations, the very first sentence I hear from employees is: “my chair is so uncomfortable! Could it be replaced?” Or – “I’m used to sitting this way and I don’t have any pains”.

Do these sentences reflect a real problem, or are they uttered as a result of thought patterns we have grown accustomed to?

Usually I find that most complaints reflect a lack of basic knowledge of how to adjust the seat properly, how high or how far away from the table to sit and where to place the hands. In my experience, most employees use the chair just as it was when they received it, with no attempt to change the backrest angle or height, the seat depth, or even the seat height.

Quite often I come across tall people sitting on a chair that fits shorter people and vice versa.

Ergonomic engineers invest a lot of time, thought and effort in designing a chair with a variety of adjustment options that will be easy to operate. Unluckily, in reality many people are simply too afraid to try and manipulate the chair, and even if they do make adjustments, they do not always perform them properly.

I have often wondered about the reason for that. Don’t people listen to what their own bodies tell them? What type and level of pain will cause them to take action? Is it the workplace pressure to fulfill the task at hand that does not allow people to devote a minute of their time to the chair they sit on? Are people deterred by their fear of what they perceive as a challenging technical feat? Are they afraid that even if they do adjust their chair it will make no difference? Could it perhaps be that this lack of attention is only the outcome of a lack of awareness?

What is an ergonomic chair?

Before you purchase a chair touted to be ergonomic, it is worthwhile to map your real needs and make sure this is the right chair for you.

These are the parameters you should take into account:

a.         The size of the chair VS the size of the user (remember, ergonomic means adjusted for the user!);

b.         Chair height VS desk height. The right proportion should allow for a correct sitting posture that does not put a load on the shoulders.

c.         The number of people that will be using the chair. For multiple users, it is recommended to purchase a chair with a variety of adjusting options, in order to allow for optimal fitting to each user.

d.         The chair’s seat should be covered with a comfortable, non slip, absorbing fabric that prevents slipping or sweating. The chair should be equipped with an additional mechanism for adjusting the seat’s depth.

e.         The backrest must have a mechanism that allows for adjusting it at different angles (nowadays, the recommended angle between the seat and back rest is 110 degrees).
In addition, it’s recommended to make sure that the chair backrest’s height can also be adjusted, to allow for maximum support of the lower back at the concave depression (back lordosis).

f.          The armrests must be adjustable for height, width, sliding back and forth as well as shifting inside. If your desk is ergonomic, you do not use the armrests but place your forearms on the desk (the armrests are just that – there to be used mainly when you’re resting).

g.         The chair’s height – should be adjusted both to the user’s height and to the desk, so you will feel that when you’re placing your forearms on the ergonomic desk, your shoulders and neck can be relaxed.
Therefore, it is important to choose a chair that includes a simple mechanism allowing for easy lifting and lowering of the chair.

h.         Synchronizing mechanism – keeps the sitting posture optimal while changing the load on the back vertebrae.

i.          Rocking mode – keeps the back in motion and alleviates the pressure exerted on the vertebrae by prolonged sitting. It is recommended to occasionally take a break at work and give the back some rest through a rocking movement.

categoriaergonomics sitting commento5 Comments dataDecember 21st, 2009
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Choosing an ergonomic mouse

By gildalit

ergonomic mouse

ergonomic mouse

extention

ergonomics mouse

What turns a computer mouse into an “ergonomic” accessory?

What are the criteria for an ergonomic mouse?

When purchasing a new mouse, how can we be certain that the mouse touted to be ergonomic does indeed comply with ergonomic criteria?

Does any mice manufacturer have the right to attach the word “ergonomic” to their products?

And is an ergonomic mouse really better than a regular mouse? That is, would an ergonomic mouse helps in preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and inflammations of the wrist?

And last but not least, given the huge assortment of ergonomic mouse devices on the market, how do we know which would be the best and the most appropriate for us?

In order to solve some of these questions, we would first need to determine what exactly is an ergonomic mouse, and what functions are not included in the ergonomic definition.

You might be surprised to know, but the design process of any product involves certain ergonomic considerations.

That being so, basically any product can be called “ergonomic”.

Confused? So am I, but the answer is simple – ergonomic means “suited to the user”. That’s right – Suited to You. That’s the greatest secret of ergonomics.

For example: a small handed girl working with an ergonomic mouse significantly big for her hand or a large man working with a smallish ergonomic mouse will feel very uncomfortable, even though they’re using a mouse that supposedly is ergonomic. An accountant using an extremely narrow or cluttered desk, who chooses to use a large mouse that can hardly be moved on such a desk, will also feel discomfort.

The obvious conclusion is: the mouse should be chosen first and foremost according to body size, work needs and desk format.

Having chosen the ergonomic mouse that fits us we have to ask – would that mouse itself prevent wrist pain?

The answer depends on how we sit and the posture of our hand on the desk.

For example: if we sit too low in respect to our desk, we will not be able to place our hand correctly on the desk, and no ergonomic mouse can or will help us. Or if due to the table structure or the multitude of devices placed on the desk (laptop, telephone, folders… you name it) there is not enough free space to place our wrist, we will not be able to achieve the correct hand posture to benefit from the ergonomic mouse.

posture

ergonomic posture

So, we understood that we need to choose a mouse that is appropriate to our structure and needs, and have arranged our sitting position and desk to enable us to create the right arm and hand position. The question still remains: Should we buy a mouse defined as ergonomic or can we be satisfied with a simple mouse?

The answer is not that simple. Our best advice would be to try out several mouse devices for a period of time, to feel if there’s any change. I believe some of the ergonomic mouse devices sold today have a structure that definitely lessens the pressure on the hand. Those are worth trying first.

categoriaergonomics mouse commento11 Comments dataDecember 13th, 2009
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Standardization – an Ergonomic Working Environment at the Office

By gildalit

ergonomic desk 1ergonomic desk

One of the first things I have noticed as an ergonomic advisor was the lack of uniformity and total absence of any standardization of the working environments at offices and working places.

This is mainly evident when you look at the equipment being used – a haphazard mix of old and new appliances, furniture items and ergonomic equipment. In many offices you can find a medley of different desks and chairs even in a single working space.

How would such a situation be created? There are a ton of different reasons.

For example, many working places might replace malfunctioning or broken equipment, but anything that is still functional gets left as it was.

Another reason could be replacing a specific item or equipment, only for those employees who used some sort of leverage to get their equipment renewed. And sometimes, it’s all about ranks – new and improved equipment is bought for the higher rank workers of the organization, but not for the lower ranks.

Additional reasons might be different decisions reached by different purchasing officers, a decision made by the operational vice president, a change in the budget allocated to acquisition, etc.

What is more clear is that this lack of uniformity can and does create an array of problems:

  1. Those workers left to work with outdated equipment suffer discomfort and pains;
  2. Each working station requires different ergonomic accessories  (which ofcourse entails a higher monetary expenditure);
  3. It is impossible to offer a uniform ergonomic guidance to all workers;
  4. Planning the arrangement of different work stations in one working space is complex and unecessarily problematic;
  5. It is a situation which could create resentment among workers and lead to demands for ergonomic equipment;
  6. And of course this is a situation which could damage the organization’s public image.

Using solid ergonomic advise and planning when getting ready to purchase ergonomic equipment in the early stages of building work stations is a critical step. Good ergonomic advice will allow the organization to create a healthy, ergonomic and uniform work environment.

categoriaergonomics setting commento3 Comments dataDecember 9th, 2009
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