When considering proper ergonomics at your workstation, the first item to assess is the chair. Most often the best office chairs are referred to as a ‘task’ chair.
In order to customize your task chair to achieve a neutral posture & position, you’ll want the following adjustment features: the ability to change the height of the chair, the seat pan angle (forward tilt) and depth (with a seat slider function) along with the seat back angle and height (often a ratchet back).
What that translates to is often 3 levers on the right side of the chair & one on the left (as viewed from the vantage of sitting in the chair).
Before making any adjustments to your chair, locate the user manual to identify all adjustment levers. Now to adjust the chair to fit you…
While seated, your weight should be equally distributed between the chair seat pan and both feet firmly on the floor.
As you sit all the way back in the chair, there should be approximately 1″ of space between the back of your knee and the edge of the seat pan. Most task chairs have a seat slider to allow for variation of seat pan depth.
In addition, your seat pan should tilt slightly forward to allow the chair to slope down towards the floor. The amount of ‘forward tilt’ is a matter of personal comfort. If your chair does not have a lever to adjust tilt, a fairly flat pillow can be placed across the back half of the chair, which will create a natural forward tilt or the seat pan may have a ‘waterfall’ cushion as the built in forward tilt.
Once these adjustments are made, a person’s natural inclination will be to sit up straight. If there is a lever that controls the seat back angle, adjust this to meet the desired upright posture.
The seat back height should also be positioned so the lumbar support fits the contour of your low back. To do this, use a knob or ratchet on the back of the chair to adjust the height. The seat back should be positioned to support the space between your waist and the bottom of your shoulder blades. If the seat back makes contact above the bottom of the shoulder blades or ‘cups’ the user, this can create a kyphotic/hunched over position.
If the seat back angle and/or height does not adjust, a cushion can be used to make up for the gap.
Lastly, remove the armrests if the chair is used primarily for the computer. As your body begins to adjust to this new position, be sure to get up and move around frequently to help with the transition.
Now that your chair is set up to maintain a neutral posture, the rest of your workstation needs to be assessed/modified to support and maintain that posture/position.
- Please note when purchasing a chair, measurements will be required prior to purchase to ensure the products specifications will meet the needs of the individual.
- Please check for chair features, specifications and cylinder weight limit.
- Please check with individual dealers for their warranty and return policy before purchasing products.
- When getting a quote for a chair, ask if the option for no armrests and/or no air lumbar decreases the overall cost of the chair. If you chose the right chair with the appropriate contour and adjustments, then neither armrests, nor air lumbar are necessary.
- Links (below) are meant to be used as a reference for what the item looks like, not necessarily where to purchase.
Below is a list, with hyperlinks, of a few task chair options available. It is by no means comprehensive, as there are so many to choose from.
ADI Viva Task Chair– Low Back only
ADI Sensaflex Task Chair– Low Back only
RFM Rainier– Task chair in multiple sizes: R2, R4 R6 & R8
RFM Protask Task Chair- Medium Back Petite & Medium Back
RFM Internet Task Chair– Medium Back & Managers High Back
RFM Carmel Task Chair– Medium Back & Managers High Back
OM Patriot Series Task Chairs– All versions of the chair
OM Paramount Series Task Chairs– All versions of the chair
OM Discovery Back Series Task Chairs– All versions of the chair
RFM Big & Tall Series Task Chairs- Chairs that are warrantied up to 400lbs & 500lbs.
OFM 247 Series 24-Hour Big And Tall Computer Task Chair– warrantied up to 400lbs
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For more information on office and industrial ergonomics, products and furniture, you will find additional articles on the JR Ergonomics Blog.
If you would like more information on setting up your workstation, choosing the right chair or have other ergonomic questions or concerns, feel free to contact me via email or phone. Jennifer Rappaport, MOTR/L, CPE • 503-380-5550 • firstname.lastname@example.org