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Worktop, chair and footrest in the office


Worktop, chair and footrest are important elements of the furnishing of an office workplace. For those who sit for hours and hours sitting at the desk in front of the monitor, it is on them that the prevention of problems related to posture such as spinal disorders, muscle disorders and hand and forearm disorders depends.

So let's see how one should be workplace in the office to keep a correct posture and not cause damage to health, while stimulating the productivity of the operators.

The work surface of the desk

Available surface and ground clearance are the parameters to be taken into consideration when evaluating the quality of a work surface. The surface must first of all offer sufficient space to allow a flexible and functional arrangement to the different elements of the equipment. For worktops equipped with monitors up to 17 inches it is advisable to use tables with a minimum size of 120 x 80 cm. Depending on the activity to be performed and the size of the devices to be used, larger or smaller worktops can be envisaged. From an ergonomic point of view, worktops with a depth of 90-100 cm are optimal.

The surface of the worktop must be low reflective and light in color, but not white. It must not give a cold sensation to the touch and must be stable: there must be no vibrations when typing on the keyboard and it must not tilt if the operator leans on any of the sides.

As for theheight of work surface, it must be approximately between 70 and 80 cm. However, the height depends on the build of the operators and for this reason it is advisable to choose tables with adjustable work surfaces in a stable and safe way for a height between 68 and 84 cm. For continuous computer or video terminal activities, the fixed height worktop is physiologically inadequate: short people need footrests, while tall people need to use shims to raise the top.

Adequate space is needed under the table for leg movements (both for comfort and to allow for frequent postural changes) and for slipping into the chair. It is important to provide cable channels to avoid the danger of tripping; they should be placed at the back of the table, possibly at the bottom of the worktop.

Tables that can be transformed from a normal desk to a high desk are optimal, to allow you to often change the working position from sitting to standing, even when using computers and video terminals. There are for example tables with work plans which can be adjusted to different heights manually or electrically. A more convenient solution is to have a small tall desk to be placed next to the workstation main to perform activities other than typing on the keyboard or surfing the Internet, such as making phone calls, reading etc.

For office work that does not involve the use of a VDU, desks that allow you to tilt the work surface. A slight inclination, usually 8 degrees, in fact gives the feeling of having a closer eye on the work area and decreases mental fatigue. Furthermore, the inclined work surface it allows you to maintain the sitting position with the back slightly tilted back, which is recommended because it strains the spine less.

The office chair

A good chair it must allow you to change position easily and must provide good support for the spine. The sitting position must be comfortable to reduce the fatigue of the back muscles and the load on the intervertebral discs. It is absolutely necessary to check that your chair in the office is adjusted correctly, preferably with the help of a colleague who observes your posture while sitting.

How should the chair be used? You have to use the entire seat and lean your back well against the backrest. In this way the position will be comfortable and the lumbar region well supported. Height of the chair and the work surface they must be adjusted so that the shoulders are relaxed and the elbows hang comfortably at the sides allowing the forearms to stay in a horizontal position. If the forearms are tilted towards each other, it means that the seat is too low, if they are tilted down the seat is too high.

The chair must be swiveling, to avoid torsion of the torso, with a five-spoke stand (to be stable) and height-adjustable seat. The height and inclination of the backrest must also be adjustable with adjustment controls that are easily accessible for the operator when in a sitting position.

The height of the backrest must be at least 50 cm above the seat and shaped in such a way as to leave the protuberant part of the buttocks free and end under the shoulder blades. Unless the activity requires a reclined posture from the operator, in which case the backrest must be higher to provide support for the shoulder blades as well. The 'dynamic' backrests are excellent as they support the movements of the back when bending forward or backward.

There are ergonomic chairs without backrest and armrests. Halfway between a chair and a stool, they are a very valid solution for those with spine problems. Chairs of this type need to be built well and are usually not cheap. A good quality at a good price is this ergonomic chair

To avoid circulation problems, it is good that there is a space of at least 4 cm between the edge of the seat and the back of the knee. This means that short-seated chairs are better for people of short stature. Also to prevent circulation problems, it is advisable to lengthen the legs often and change their position avoiding crossing them. Using a ball-chair can help to strengthen the lumbar muscles, however it is not recommended to do it for long periods.

The wheels of office chairs must have characteristics suitable for the floor on which they must roll: if the latter has a soft surface, for example it is covered with carpet, chairs with hard wheels are preferable. Conversely, if the floor is hard, chairs with soft wheels are preferred.

The footrest

After work surface and the chair, here we are at the footrest. When sitting at your desk, your feet should rest comfortably on the floor. If necessary, you have to use footrests and choose them based on the length of the legs. The footrest must be sufficiently wide, mobile and non-slip. Small footrests are not recommended if they have just enough space for the feet or which require them to be placed on a bar in the center of the sole of the foot.

A footrest that performs its function well can also be bought for a few euros, for example online you can find this plastic footrest

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