No doubt you’ll need some form of seating in your workshop, whether it’s an office chair to sit at a computer or rolling stools to allow you to take the weight off your feet while you’re working. Here’s what you need to know about buying seating for your workshop:
The importance of Ergonomics
Ergonomics is a science that studies how people interact with their environment. It’s most commonly viewed as being the ease with which people work with their surroundings and equipment and how to work in a way that promotes health and reduces harm.
When choosing work equipment, particularly desks or workstations and chairs, it’s important to consider ergonomics as of prime importance; we spend a lot of our lives at work and it’s crucial for healthy working that you get it right.
In the workplace, ergonomics is usually a balancing act. You need to ensure that your furniture is adjustable enough to allow you to work safely at your desk, but that requires a combination of factors. Most who study ergonomics agree on the following:
When seated at your desk, your legs should be bent at a 90° angle with your feet flat on the floor. Your arms should be bent at 90° at the elbow, with your hands resting lightly above the keyboard. If adjusting your chair to allow for this means that your legs sit too high off the floor, you need to prop your feet up with a footrest. Your back should be comfortably straight with no slouching, but not too straight; your spine should rest in its natural curvature.
You should also ensure that your monitor is directly in front of you so that you don’t strain your neck up or down to view it. A monitor riser can be used if necessary.
Advice on choosing a chair
When choosing a chair, you are looking for comfort and safety. That means choosing a model that is adjustable, more options the better. Lumbar support for the lower back, an adjustable back that can be angled as well as moved forward or backwards and a gas adjustable seat height is the minimum you need, but there are other adjustable features you can look for too.
Consider whether or not you need armrests. They can be useful for preventing tiredness or strain on your arms, but watch out that they don’t force you to sit too far from the desk. Overreaching can cause shoulder and lower back pain.
Features to look out
Look out for chairs that allow ‘dynamic sitting’; the body isn’t designed to sit in a static position for too long and good chairs will adapt to small movements, such as slightly reclining with your body.
Wheels are important if you need to move to different parts of a workbench or desk and will prevent stretching and overreaching, while a swivel seat will also help with this. However, in some workshops, you might want to prevent chairs from moving inappropriately – some models have lockable wheels, while others are designed so that the wheels lock in place when weight is applied, meaning you can move the seat by lifting yourself up slightly.
Look also for a padded seat surface. Budget chairs can seem economical, but they usually lack adequate cushioning. Proper cushioning should be both solid and padded. Secure enough to support your weight, but not hard enough that you can feel pressure on the base of your pelvis.
Some chairs will come with an extra lumbar support, usually in the form of a removable rest. This is useful for both supporting the back and allowing airflow and preventing sweat if you work in a hot environment.
Style of chair
For many workshops, ordinary office chairs might not provide the necessary height to reach the top of workbenches. In these circumstances, draughtsman chairs are usually the best option.
Draughtsman Chairs come with a ring kit; this is a foot ring that allows the user to rest their feet even when the chair is lifted fairly high from the floor. They are usually fully adjustable with optional armrests.
However, be aware that budget draughtsman chairs will probably not be suitable for manufacturing or laboratory environments. In this situation, you will need to choose models that are made from durable materials resistant to acids and alkalis, with wipe-clean surfaces.
Chairs and seats usually come in a variety of materials. The base plastic and metals will vary according to strength and durability, but the majority of options will centre around the materials that the padding it made from. Most chairs use a surface material over a foam filling for cushioning.
Fabric – Fabric is a durable material which is hardwearing and therefore suitable for daily use. It is warm which makes it ideal for colder environments or when the chair is left unoccupied for long periods. It is also breathable, which means that in warmer environments, with less chance of sweating. Fabric is also available in a range of colours, and many opt for this as it allows them to choose chairs that are in keeping with the rest of the workspace or with brand colours.
Mesh fabric – This is a springy material that is very breathable allowing the air to circulate freely, so it is ideal for warm working environments. The springy quality means padding can often be entirely unnecessary, so these also make for lighter chairs.
Leather – These are the top of the range in terms of materials. Usually reserved for executive seating or high-end offices, leather is more resistant to stains than fabric, needing only a wipe down. It also has a luxurious quality. Faux leather offers many of the benefits of leather with a lower price.
Polyurethane – Poly chairs are a great choice for workshops, as they are hard wearing and highly resistant to scratching, staining and otherwise becoming damaged. The only downside for these is that they tend to be fairly hard to sit on for long periods, but are a great choice for occasional seating.
Vinyl – Vinyl chairs can be a good halfway stop between fabric and polyurethane. They are usually slightly padded, so can provide comfort for longer, but the hard wearing fabric is also resistant to staining, damage, ripping and damage, more so than a fabric or mesh chair would be. The only downside is that the material is not breathable, so it can make you feel sweaty or hot after a while.
For more information on choosing the right workshop chairs for your business needs, speak to one of our team, who can provide in-depth product knowledge across all of our chairs and more.