Friday, February 20, 2009

Seating: What We've Learned

Principles of ergonomic seating design ...

"The ergonomic office chair with an array of bells and whistles may not be the end all we thought it was, as new research collected by Steelcase suggests. In an interesting move that questions the industry's long-held belief that a good task chair is the key to preventing musculoskeletal disorders, Steelcase is now advancing the theory that healthy sitting is just one part of a wellness philosophy that includes leaving that chair behind at regular intervals. And as you might expect, they have just the products to keep you working and highly productive when you are not sitting at your desk.

First the facts: According to research, lower back pain is the second most common reason people visit a doctor, and back pain is twice as common today as it was in 1950. Musculoskeletal disorders directly cost employers $61.2 billion per year, and workers lose 846,000 work days annually to musculoskeletal problems. Furthermore, two-thirds of the workforce is overweight, and obesity is on the rise.

To address these issues, and in keeping with current thinking that a disparate workforce with a variety of tasks requires furniture to support different ways of working, Steelcase has developed a wellness perspective designed around the need for movement, which encourages people to be active throughout their work day. They call this concept "Sit, Stand, Walk."

"With the Sit, Stand, Walk philosophy, we are taking a broader, more dynamic view of ergonomics," says Ken Tameling, seating general manager for Steelcase. "It's not about sitting all day in the pristine, static, upright posture. We're encouraging a dramatic increase in movement, which has been shown to have significant physical benefits, but also cognitive benefits. Movement aids with blood flow to the brain and can reduce stress."

The three components tied to Steelcase's new Sit, Stand, Walk concept draw from the company's existing product offerings and include dynamic seating that encourages healthy movement and postural change while sitting, an adjustable worksurface that promotes standing for part of the day, and access to a workstation that allows the user to walk through part of the day. The first two product types are self-explanatory, but the third may draw a quizzical look from anyone who is not on top of all of Steelcase's/Details' most recent product introductions. In October of 2007, the manufacturer unveiled its Walkstation height-adjustable workstation with an integrated treadmill, which was designed in partnership with Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, who does research into the benefits of non-exercise activity."    (Continued via Contract Coverings)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Steelcase - Ergonomics


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