how-to Jan 18, 2021
 

We all know that sitting in front of a computer all day can put a lot of pressure on our body.

"Incorrect" ergonomics is the main reason why employees complain of having back pain, shoulder pain, stiff neck, and other health issues. Poor posture while working can result in poor employee health and reduces productivity.

Playing a serious part in these problems is the fact that employers have this idea that one piece of equipment fits all, whether it’s a desk, a keyboard, or a monitor - it should fit. The tendency is that they buy one of these for all of their employees.

The most common, of course, is that “one chair fits all.” You may have noticed that in most workplaces, everyone has the exact same chair. 

Recommending Ergonomic Equipment: How to Make an Informed Choice

Obviously, one chair does not fit everyone. So as ergonomic professionals, we can help employers prevent workplace health problems from troubling their employees by applying a practical solution. Certainly, you can find various types of ergonomic office chairs in the market that promote good posture and provide comfort, but how do you pick the right chair for your client? In this blog, I'll share how you can make an informed choice when choosing the most suitable chair for your client.

Universal Design versus A Practical Approach 

The big misconception that “one chair fits all” is very evident when we’re talking about universal design versus having a practical approach to ergonomics. Universal design is when you have something that will fit more than 90% of the population. This method is costly and can price out the employer’s budget since getting a universal chair is expensive. 

Additionally, there’s quite a difference between a 5th percentile female, someone who is very petite, and a 95th percentile male, someone who is very large. According to a 1979 quote from the book entitled, Introduction to Ergonomics by R. S. Bridger:

If a piece of equipment was designed to fit 90% of the male US population, it would fit roughly 90% of the Germans, 80% of the Frenchmen, 65% of the Italians, 45% of the Japanese, 25% of the Thais, and 10% of the Japanese.

This further emphasizes the point that one chair will obviously not fit everyone. 

What I recommend you to do is a more practical approach to ergonomics. What makes it practical is you can guarantee that you can get the best type of chair for that person, and you can ensure that it’s within the employer’s budget.

Of course, this isn’t just exclusive for recommending an ergonomic chair, it’s applicable for whatever recommendations you’re going to make for that company. And this goes into the same mind frame of how we can best serve our clients. So instead of providing the usual services like office ergonomic assessments or training, you can offer your clients a lot more depths of services. One example is the idea of a consult, providing recommendations and making sure that they get the correct equipment.

Here’s how you can best serve your clients through a practical approach:

1. Adjustability

When an employer wants to buy a new piece of equipment and asks for your recommendation, think of what you can bring to the table in terms of value so that they purchase the right equipment, as well as save time and money. Purchasing an incorrect office chair and then returning it because it’s not suitable for the employees is an incredible waste of money, and it deflates the ergonomic process and program for everybody. 

So when working with a client, you want to figure out the specifics of that person. When assessing your clients, you want to figure out the big or small, short or tall, or bariatric. Each one of these will have different requirements of the chair, head working height, and eye height. Keep in mind that when choosing an ergonomic chair, it should be appropriate for that person’s body, their workstation, and job duties. Whenever possible, when designing a new workplace, you want to get as much adjustability in the equipment, including the keyboard tray height, desk height, or monitor height. Knowing how these adjustments work will ensure that the employees who work in that place can work comfortably, therefore, productively.

2. Mitigate Risk and Devise a Strategy

When recommending equipment we want to do our due diligence. There’s always going to be a difference between buying for one person and trying to outfit the entire workplace. It will all depend on how good our strategy is, especially when you’re working with a larger workforce. It will turn back into a process that we can recommend them to use and we can guarantee that the process is efficient. In order to mitigate risk, you want to choose a chair that’s fully adjustable to support various tasks of the employee, has adequate lumbar support, as well as the utmost stability that match the office flooring. 

The best strategy in order to pick the right chair for your client is to get 3 types of chairs that are all ergonomically okay and of the same color. It doesn’t matter if you purchase them from the same manufacturer or not. Preferably, it’s best to get black chairs and avoid picking colors that stand out, like red or purple.

It's practical to get trial sample chairs that allow users to try them first in their workplace. Most upscale chair companies have sample chairs that you can try. So the next time you recommend a chair to your client, make sure to get samples of 3 types of chairs in black and let them try it for 1 to 2 weeks. The reason why this is important to do is because between similar chairs, it has been scientifically proven that a person needs at least 18 minutes to determine a chair that’s comfortable and not comfortable.

By trying this practical approach, we can ensure that we’re mitigating the risk and the budget. Of course, we want to avoid buying chairs that are expensive, or that are going to cause more harm than good.  

Remember

An ergonomic chair is a huge help to employees whose work involves sitting for a long period of time. A suitable ergonomic chair will help promote good posture and enhance the employee’s comfort. When recommending a chair, you should do so with the client in mind, recognizing that every person and job duties vary, and that you can mitigate the risk through a practical approach in ergonomics. With the many brands of ergonomic chairs available in the market today, it may be overwhelming for the employers to pick the right one. It is therefore essential to work closely with the employer and ensure that they understand the important features of an ergonomic chair so that they can make the right purchase. That in itself is a service offering you can provide to your employers.

So, there you have it. Those are some of the tips you want to consider the next time you recommend an equipment to your clients.

If you’re interested to learn how other healthcare professionals are already adding office ergonomic expertise to their services, I have a training for you. You can get started today by clicking on this link.

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