Office chairs are usually sat of for some hours at a time and five days a week. When a chair is used for that amount of time, any problems such as poor back support or an incorrect sitting position can have a real impact on your health.
In order to ensure your health and safety when using an office chair at work, there are a number of factors you need to consider. Paying careful attention to each of these considerations will help to preserve your health and comfort, and ensure that all legal requirements are met in the workplace.
Choice of Chair
Your choice of chair is a key consideration in ensuring that your health and safety are preserved during long periods of sitting. At the very least, you should ensure that you choose a dedicated office chair. It can seem tempting to use a dining chair or other type of seating as an office chair, but these are not designed for such prolonged periods of use. They may not have a suitably ergonomic shape, fail to provide adequate back support, or simply become uncomfortable over the course of the day.
There will be greater health and safety benefits to office chairs with added features. Things as simple as high, ergonomically-shaped backs, headrests and arms can make a noticeable difference. These features not only improve comfort but help to preserve your health in the long term. From a more directly practical viewpoint, you should choose an office chair with at least a five-legged base for stability and a range of adjust-ability options to help the occupant find their ideal sitting position.
Sitting position is vital to health and safety. Even a slightly uncomfortable sitting position can put strain on muscles that, over hours or days, can lead to pain or health problems. When sitting down in an office chair, take time to make sure you find your ideal sitting position. Adjust the height to suit yourself and the height of your desk, and if the back of the chair is adjustable then find the most comfortable position for it. See how easily and comfortably you can reach the keyboard and mouse, or anything else you need to use in the course of your working day. If the position of your arms feels stretched or unnatural, try adjusting your seating position to make it feel more comfortable.
In some ways, sitting position is an ongoing concern through the course of your working day. If you need to turn around to look at something or someone, even for a short period, then make use of the chair’s swivel function rather than trying to twist yourself around. Make sure you position your chair so that you can clearly and easily see all screens that you use. If you use a multi-display computer setup and need to move slightly to see a secondary screen, swivel your chair rather than turning your neck.
Your behaviour through the course of the working day can do wonders for ensuring you maintain good health and safety practice. Modern office chairs almost universally have wheels. If you need to reach something that is a little far off, either take advantage of those wheels to move the chair or simply stand up and walk over to it. Leaning to much when sitting on your chair can cause it to fall over, and it can put stress on screws and joints that can make the chair unstable or unsafe over time. Inspect the chair every few months for this kind of damage. Make sure it is in good condition, and tighten any screws or bolts that may be coming loose.
However comfortable and well-designed an office chair is, and how ever perfect the seating position that you manage to find, sitting still for long periods is not ideal from a health and safety point of view. Even short breaks in which you stand up and move around can make a big difference. If you are busy and decide to take lunch at your desk, consider taking a few minutes’ break to stand up and move around for the sake of your health. It is also a good idea to take short breaks throughout the day in which you stand up and move around. Even just getting up to make the occasional cup of tea or fetch some water can help improve your health and safety situation. If this is not something you tend to do, then consider setting regular times in the morning and afternoon to stand up and walk around the office for a couple of minutes.