The furniture buyer hesitated as she stepped into the showroom. There were so many options for new office or classroom furniture! Maybe the best way to start was by testing them herself. She first sat in an important-looking leather desk chair. It was too tall.
Next, she lowered herself into a short chair with arm rests and a roller-bottom. It was too short.
Finally, she sank onto a simple chair that looked shiny, new and comfy too — it was just the right height! But it made her back hurt.
Testing everything herself was a bad idea. The buyer decided to use the BIFMA Ergonomics Ultimate Test for Fit to help her select office or classroom furniture instead.
We hope this little tale has illustrated the problem with sorting through the many options out there for new office or classroom furniture. Instead of going in blindly, looking for immediate comfort, it’s important to know what elements make for ergonomic positions that won’t harm workers or students in the long-term.
Here are a few tips the furniture buyer above might have learned from using an ergonomics guide:
When sitting at the right height, your feet should rest flat on the ground, without putting too much pressure on the underside of your thighs.
If the angle between your thighs and torso is tighter than 90 degrees, you need a taller seat.
You should be able to sit all the way back in your chair without feeling the seat press too hard behind your knees.
The work surface should be at a height which allows for neutral positions in the wrists, arms and shoulders. When working, your forearms ought to be parallel to the floor.
Your eyes should be level with the top of your computer monitor. You should never have to look up to see your screen, but positioning the screen between 20 and 60 degrees below your eye level is usually fine.
To get a complete guide to selecting ergonomic office or classroom furniture, check out BIFMA’s Ultimate Test for Fit. You -- and those you're buying for -- will be glad you did.