It is vital that you have a suitable chair in full working order. UHSE recommends two models for office use, the Ergonomic Coast and the Conway, both of which are available from the University's preferred supplier (Bridgend Office furniture). Your departmental assessor can help you decide which is more suitable for you. You can trial one for a short period before putting in a purchase order, to ensure you are happy with your choice. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a trial.
Your departmental assessor can assist you in setting your chair to the optimum position for your needs.
If you have a health condition or persistent aches and pains, and think you may need a different chair, UHSE are able to advise on alternative models. A full workstation assessment will be needed before advice can be given.
Adjusting your chair
Although there is an ideal way to set up the chair for computer use (see the poster for a quick overview), you may find that you need to readjust it when you are carrying out other desk-based tasks such as speaking on the phone, reading, or hand-writing. Get to know your own chair and where your ideal adjustments are placed for each of your tasks. See How to Adjust your Computer Chair for step-by-step instructions. Your departmental assessor can assist you in setting your chair to the optimum position for your needs.
When your chair is adjusted to the proper height for typing, you may find that your feet cannot comfortably be placed flat on the floor. If so, you will need a footrest. There are several simple models that are successfully in use around the University. Bridgend Office Furniture can help you choose a suitable one or you may already have a favourite that suits you.
A footrest can help you to maintain a relaxed and supported posture in your chair even if you can place your feet on the floor without it. It can give you another easy option for periodically changing your posture.
Exercise balls (Swiss balls)
We sometimes get asked about whether exercise balls make good substitutes for office chairs.
The exercise ball was designed for use during exercise sessions. The inherent instability of the ball during use demands constant muscular adjustments to maintain balance and can help in strengthening & toning muscles. Developing the abdomen and back muscles can reduce the likelihood and severity of back pain, and can help to improve posture.
The benefits of an exercise ball do not mean that it is a substitute for a well designed & properly adjusted office chair for a number of reasons:
- The ball is inherently unstable & it will cause the user to fatigue faster than they might otherwise;
- The unstable nature of the ball means that there is a risk of falling off it, especially in prolonged use;
- The ball seating position can not be adjusted and the user will have to remain in the same posture for the duration of use.
- The ball provides no back support and its use in place of chair for prolonged periods may cause other back problems.
Many manufacturers & suppliers advertise exercise balls for use during physical therapy, but none promote them as a substitute for office seating. Indeed, the Health and Safety (Display Screen) Regulations 1992 specifically require a stable, height- and back-adjustable chair.
Some people favour this type of stool for some work and there may occasionally be a health reason why someone might need to use one in an office setting. However, as with exercise balls, they are not a substitute for a well-adjusted ergonomic office chair. Anyone who wishes to use one in the office should be able to provide evidence of a medical need. They should not be used for long periods (such as a full working morning) as they can easily cause knee problems while attempting to alleviate a problem in another part of the anatomy. It is difficult to adjust them suitably for computer use such that the back and legs are comfortable while maintaining a suitable height for the lower arms to be horizontal while typing.