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Since the 1970s, ergonomics have been an important factor in the design of task chairs (chairs designed for office or home office work). In this article, we will look at what makes a task chair ergonomic, that is to say, whether it is designed with the safety and well-being of the user in mind.

Six Design Considerations in Ergonomic Task Chairs

The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists six factors that need to be taken into consideration when determining whether a task chair is ergonomic or not. These are as follows:-

1. Castors. An ergonomic chair should be mounted on wheels or castors, with at least a five point base to ensure that body weight is distributed evenly.

2. Seat Pan. The seat pan is, in the words of the NIH "the component of the chair that supports the majority of the user's weight" – or, in plain English, the part you put your bottom on (in most cases, though there are ergonomic body balance task chairs that distribute body weight evenly between the buttocks and the knees). The front of the seat pan should slope down slightly, and you should be able to place your fist between the back of your knees and the front of the seat to reduce pressure on the back of the thighs.

3. Back rest. The back rest should provide lumbar support. If it is not small enough to fit in the small of the back, it should be curved between the pelvis and the ribs.

4. Armrest should be soft and at least two inches wide in order to provide adequate support.

5. The seat height should be adjustable so that the user's feet are on the floor and their hands are level with your desk and/or computer keyboard.

6. The chair should recline or tilt in order to transfer the user's upper body weight to the backrest, and allow him or her to change position easily.

The Need for Ergonomic Task Chairs

Ergonomic task chairs evolved because of the need to keep employees sitting at their desks for long periods of time without losing days due to aches and pains, particularly back pain, caused by design flaws in their chairs. Nowadays, they are standard in virtually every office. The design of the modern office has made it necessary for office workers to be able to move around, hence the need for chairs with castors, and to turn from one task to another. For this reason, swivel chairs are no longer the preserve of executives, as they once were, but are used by any office worker who needs to perform their duties without injuring their back. Ergonomics should be a concern for any efficiently run office, and an ergonomic task chair is probably the single most important piece of equipment that an office's purchasing manager can provide to the workforce.

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