A Pain In The Class: Why Classroom Ergonomics Are Key

Posted by Jerry Doll on Wed, Nov, 21, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

Classroom Ergonomics SeatinErgonomics means “the study of work” in the original Greek. In modern times, we’ve come to associate it with comfort and convenience. An ergonomic interior in a new sports car often has as much to do with the accessibility of switches and perks like seat heaters as it does with how the design of the car interacts with the human body and the motions required to drive it. Similarly, as with classroom furniture, ergonomic furniture must refer to that which is not only comfortable but healthy and functional for students.

Consequences of utilizing classroom furniture that doesn’t meet acceptable ergonomic standards include very real physical symptoms such as eye strain, neck and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. In addition, the educational drawbacks are well-documented: lack of attention, poor concentration and lowered achievement levels.

Some of the characteristics of ergonomic classroom furniture include:

  • Chairs with the correct seat height that place both user’s feet flat on the floor.

  • Table height that places keyboards so users can type comfortably with arms slightly bent and fingers resting on the keyboard. 

  • A variety of chairs and tables of different heights available, or adjustable chairs and tables, particularly for computer workstations. Avoid resorting to a “one size fits all” philosophy of classroom furniture simply to save money.

Even with furniture designed for ergonomics, proper use requires attention to posture, as well. Here are a few guidelines for correct seating:

  • Seated in the chair, the back should be at a 90-degree angle to the thighs and fully supported by the chair back. 

  • Both feet should be firmly on the floor or, for a smaller student, on a provided footrest.

  • Head should be erect and balanced, not tilted forward or back. 

  • Upper arms should be drawn in close to the body, not splayed out to the sides or extended forward. 

  • The angle at the elbows should be greater than 90 degrees with the forearm slightly below horizontal.

NOVA Solutions has manufactured classroom and technology furniture to meet educational standards for ergonomics since 1986.

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Topics: ergonomic furniture, ergonomics, classroom furniture