Chairs are one of those items that you truly get what you pay for. Please, DO NOT order a chair without sitting on it. Choose a brick and mortar location that has a large number of chairs to choose from (Steelcase, Office Relief, Relax the Back are examples). A 10-15 minute butt test is NOT enough time to see if the chair fits and is comfortable. Ask for a Demo Chair (10 to 30 days) to try out. If they don’t provide a demo(s) Don’t just walk away…..RUN away. Expect to pay $250 to $1000 each. If possible, call ahead and make an appointment with someone to fit a chair to you. OR Contact an Ergonomist in your area. If you don’t know, any check with the Ergonomic Roundtable, or Human Factors & Ergonomic Society (HFES) in your area and request a referral.
Things to have in mind when you are looking at chairs. Is there One User or Multiple Users? Will the chair be used 8 hours/day or 24 hours/day (warrantee may be voided if over 8 hrs /day). How long do you expect the chair to last? What is the warranty? Is the cylinder covered under the warranty and for how long? If you have a 24 hr operation, remember to ask the Vendor if they can adjust the warrantee. Everything is negotiable, doesn’t hurt to try.
About chairs they are designed to fit the 95 percentile Female in the US for minimum height and the 95 percentile Male for the maximum height of the chair. If you have staff members less than 60” tall, or taller than 72”, or over 250 pounds, multiple chairs will need to be purchased. I survived 2 major chair replacements for the call centers 2,000 staff members and , I ended up choosing 3 different types of chairs to fit our population. Additionally, I had to purchase specific chairs for staff under 60”, over 76” and one for +450 pounds. Caution: if over 350 be sure to factor in drop weight (work with the manufacturer). When someone Obese is going to sit down they position themselves over the chair and drop the last 4-6 inches. Unless the chair is designed with that in mind you will be replacing cylinders frequently and also have risk of the chairs’ failure.
What Controls should the chair have: Seat Height, Seat pan depth, Seat pan angle, Lumbar, Seat back height and depth, Arm Rest – up/down (at minimum), in/out, forward/backward, angled into and away from body.
When you provide chairs to staff allow them to choose the chair they like as long as it can fit them correctly (see above). YOU must train your staff on how to adjust the chair(s). I created a PowerPoint for staff to review and check off (yearly). The PowerPoint demonstrated the controls of all the chairs purchased. Failure to train your staff will lead to problems and possible Workers Comp injuries. In the training be sure to stress that Staff should adjust the chairs throughout the day to prevent static postures.
Major Chair Manufacturers: Office Master, Steelcase, Herman Miller, HAG, Haworth, Humanscale, Soma (has chairs for staff under 58” tall) are just a few.