Sitting has been one of the main gestures of human beings. At the very beginning, our ancestors sat on the hard and rough ground with nothing underneath. After centuries, chairs were invented as humans explored more comfortable sitting positions. The early chairs were using hard materials such as wood and rock, thus as time passed, sofas and armchairs were brought into sight. Nowadays, there are all kinds of chairs, with some being able to adjust to different heights, some coming with soft materials, and some providing armrests.
As ergonomics becomes popular and essential, a new type of chair called the ergonomics chair has been designed by not only designers but also engineers. Since people nowadays spend hours in front of the computer every now and then, and as the computer desk is stable, people need adjustable chairs to adopt the right computer posture (ergonomic-info.com).
Ergonomics chairs’ functions can be categorized into four parts: the seat height adjustment, the backrest adjustment, the armrest adjustment and others (CCOHS, 2014). It is the easiest to understand the height adjustment as more and more chairs are already making use of this part. Although the seat height adjustment differ from each chair, most ergonomic ones are designed to adjust from 380mm to 530mm from the floor, which is accommodating most of the population, except if the person is too short or too tall. In that ways, the extreme cases would need to customer-design their own which is quite common as the area of ergonomics is focusing on oneself more and more (after all, human factors is a subject that makes people comfortable, healthy and safe).
The backrest adjustment is more complicated as almost everyone has different back problems and comfort areas. Overall, the backrest should be adjustable both vertically and in the frontward and backward direction and has a firm lumbar support. Vertically, the backrest should be positioned just below the shoulder level, shaping to the lower section of the back. In the frontward and backward direction, it is more about the material of the backrest (CCOHS, 2014). Ideally, it should be molding around and supporting the individual. Also, some chairs have the option of going dramatically backwards and forwards. The purchase of this kind depends on the customer himself/herself. If he/she likes to lean back a lot when resting, get the chair. Otherwise, it might be useless. Also, another important feature of the chair is to support the lumbar position for safety reasons. Since we all have different shaped size backs, sometimes this can be a hit or miss. But the best method of buying an ergonomics chair is to sit on it for a while and compare between many options until your body finds the most comfortable one.
Coming to the armrest, it is a dilemma. Armrests should be providing support during work, but permanently-attached armrests also prevent people from drawing closer to the desk and finding the perfect height of the chair (Springer, 2010). If people want to avoid bad posture and make the best use of the so-called ergonomics chair, it is wiser to buy those with height adjustable armrests so that it can rise or low with the chair.
It seems like the ergonomics chair has been considering everything related to seating position. However, it cannot solve all the problems. It is still very important for people to seat correctly and properly, and the chair would work even better if the work surface around, the lightings and other office elements are designed to correspond.
Overall, the ergonomics chair supports a wide variety of work activities, maximize the environmental intelligence in design, go beyond usability and is the most widely-used design that includes ergonomics in present.
Ergonomic Chair Design. Retrieved from http://www.ergonomics-info.com/ergonomic-chair-design.html
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. (2014, March 5). Ergonomic Chair. Retrieved from https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/office/chair.html
Springer, T. (2010). The Future of Ergonomic Office Seating. Retrieved from https://www.knoll.com/document/1352940440338/wp_future_ergonomic_seating.pdf