Office Furniture
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Guide to Operator Chairs

When considering the ergonomics of the office workstation the importance of the chair is often overlooked. Furthermore seating is one area where the price really can make a difference and whilst many chairs may look the same there are real differences between a chair at £300.00 and an almost identical looking product at £100.00. Here we shall consider the differences between the many products on offer today.

All Operator Chairs will offer some basic standard functions and these include a swivel base, seat height adjustment, back rake adjustment and either height adjustment of the back or some form of adjustable lumbar support.

An entry level chair will have the basic functions above but will probably have a fairly small seat and back and a relatively cheap mechanism. The gas lift (one of the most important elements) will be rated to a fairly low body weight and the chair may be recommended for as little as a few hours use per day.

A step up from the entry level chair provides the most important feature to achieving comfort for the user; commonly called the Synchro mechanism. The Synchro mechanism allows the user to leave the chair in ˜free float" enabling the chair to move with the user whilst maintaining correct posture at all times. The Synchro mechanism links the rake adjustment of the back with a seat tilt and also a body weight tension adjustment which should be set to the individual. This dynamic form of seating provides a higher level of comfort and can help lessen back pain and fatigue.

Having settled on a good quality Synchro mechanism we can then consider the addition of arms and height adjustable arms offer another level of adjustment over the traditional fixed arm. On a better quality chair the arm rests will probably adjust forwards and backwards as well as left to right.

A seat depth adjustment can also be added allowing adjustment of usually 50 - 60mm which is important when purchasing chairs for staff of various heights.

The final difference between the many models of chair will be in the quality of components used and the rating of items such as gas lifts. As mentioned earlier budget chairs are sometimes recommended for only a few hours use per day and are not really designed for the demands of a busy office. At the higher end chairs will be certified for use 24 hours a day 7 days per week and clearly there are very real differences between these two extremes.

In choosing the right chair it is therefore important to consider various factors including the environment they are to be used in, the people using them, how often they are to be used and probably the most important, what colour should they be! It can be argued that the office chair is the most important piece of office furniture and should therefore be given more consideration than other items and allocated a realistic budget.