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Alternative Chairs

What are examples of "alternative" chairs?

The forward sloping chair and the kneeling chair are alternatives for workers who sit continuously. A saddle chair (sit-stand seat) allows a worker to alternate between sitting and standing.

What is a forward sloping chair?

A forward sloping chair has a mechanism that allows the user to adjust the tilt of the seat pan forward. The angle of tilt from the horizontal should not be greater than 10 degrees.

Forward sloping chair

What are some advantages of a forward sloping chair?

The use of a forward sloping chair:

  • Increases the number of possible positions.
  • Provides better alignment for spine.
  • Improves visual distance and angle to the task on a worktable.
  • Improves head position.
  • Improves return blood flow from the lower legs.
  • Decreases pressure on internal organs.

What are some disadvantages of a forward sloping chair?

The use of a forward sloping chair:

  • Places more weight on legs to control forward tilt of the upper body, and may result in earlier development of tiredness.
  • May cause the body to slide forward; however, if the seat pan of such a chair is curved from front to back, it would allow you to sit without sliding. Nevertheless, you do have do exert some muscular effort in your lower legs to remain seated. This effort is in fact beneficial (providing the slope is not greater than 15 degrees) because it improves the return blood flow from your lower legs.
  • May cause clothing to ride up legs.

What is a kneeling chair?

A kneeling chair has a fixed seat sloping at 30 degrees forward and padded support for knees.

Kneeling chair

What are some advantages of a kneeling chair?

A kneeling chair:

  • Provides proper alignment for the spine.
  • May be good for some people if fitted to the individual.
  • Provides considerable comfort for short periods of time.

What are some disadvantages of a kneeling chair?

A kneeling chair:

  • Causes shins to bear weight.
  • Over-flexes knees and ankles.
  • Limits the number of possible sitting positions.
  • May cause fatigue to develop earlier.
  • May cause clothing to ride up legs.
  • Makes getting in and out of the chair difficult.
  • Reduces the range of reaches.

When would you use a saddle chair or a sit-stand seat?

A saddle chair can be used where the worker can alternate between sitting and standing in his or her work.

A saddle chair:

  • reduces fatigue by decreasing muscular effort
  • improves alignment of the spine
Saddle chair

Combining the saddle chair with a tilted worktable, where possible, is beneficial because it:

  • improves the head position and
  • reduces stress on shoulders and neck.
Combine the saddle...

Alternate sitting and standing frequently.

Are there some other things I should know about alternative seating?

There are situations when rest chairs and sitting/kneeling support should be made available.

Rest Chair

It is desirable to have a chair for resting even when work can only be done standing. If space is limited, then chair that can be folded up and stored out of the way can be used.

Rest chair

Sitting/Kneeling Support

Making hip support available where the work requires kneeling:

  • reduces tension in the thigh muscles, by widening the angle of the knees
  • reduces compression on the knees, ankles and lumbar region (middle to lower back)
  • improves blood circulation
Sitting/Kneeling Support
  • Do not maintain kneeling/sitting position for extended periods.
  • Avoid bending.
  • Stand up and walk whenever possible.
Sitting/Kneeling Support

Document last updated on April 16, 2007


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