OSHA Regulations for Workplace Chairs

Written by jeff carter
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Appropriate placement and design of workplace chairs can help you perform well and work comfortably. To ensure a safe and healthy workplace, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established regulations that are aimed at improving workplace health and safety. According to the OSHA website: "A good chair provides necessary support to the back, legs, buttocks, and arms, while reducing exposures to awkward postures, contact stress, and forceful exertions."


To avoid contributing to poor posture, the backrest must conform to your spine's natural curvature and must give enough lumbar support. Workplace chairs that have no appropriate or adjustable backrest won't give adequate lumbar support. OSHA requires that employers provide chairs with adjustable backrests capable of supporting the back in various seated positions.


Utilising a workplace chair that is too low or too high can make it difficult to maintain the natural S-shape of your spine. Having an awkward posture can lead to numbness, fatigue and pain. If the seat can't be lowered, you should use a footrest for stable foot support. It is recommended that your seat is padded, height adjustable and wide enough to support almost all hip sizes. Thus, OSHA requires workplaces to provide seat span that is not too big or too small for the employee.


If provided, the armrest should be soft, allowing your elbows to remain close to your body and your shoulders to relax. An armrest that is not adjustable can cause you to have posture problems, which later result in back or neck pain. If your chair's armrests cannot be correctly adjusted, just remove them or don't use them. OSHA requires armrests to have rounded edges and must be made from a soft material. Armrests with sharp corners and that are rigid can irritate the blood vessels and nerves in the forearm. Make sure your armrests are large enough to brace your lower arms.


Your workplace chair must have a strong, five-legged base with casters that are suitable for the flooring type of your workstation. Workplace chairs with four or fewer legs may give insufficient support. Chairs that have no casters can make it hard for you to position your chair close to your desk. This could increase bending or reaching to access your workstation components, leading to fatigue and muscle strain.

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