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Office Chairs - How to get new chairs

Steph .SSteph . Posts: 2
edited 01/23/2015 - 7:22 AM in Chronic Pain
Hey there I am hoping for some tips on convincing corporate to get better chairs for everyone at work.

To start I work in a Chicago skyscraper desk job which very much aggravates my back. I have chronic back pain and am trying to follow tips I've found: get up and move, focus on good posture and reading up on this article I've disovered that the chairs at the office have several issues. Now I am a short woman, and the chairs are too low for me (so other people at the office must have it worse). If I try to sit properly I end up leaning all the way back and slumping my neck to see the computer, better for my back I suppose but my neck and shoulders are now killing me. I sent a note with a link to the article making a request to bring in some better chairs. I even when as far as finding a company that sells ergonomic chairs specifically in larger amounts to offices. This was about five months ago, and the only response I've gotten was a thanks for the input. I've rallied several other coworkers who have similar discomforts and asked that they put in requests also.

Anyone good with office politics? What can I do to help move this along? I don't even know if this is being considered but the chairs we have are quite old. My chair adjusts but is too low as high as it can go.
Scoliosis is the least of my problems, but still need some help every once in a while


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 01/23/2015 - 7:22 AM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • If there is an ergonomic committee at your work, they are the first ones to submit a request for evaluation. Be specific on the issues of your workspace and the pains it causes you. You may have to submit a incident report or something so there is record of pain or issues caused by your work so that there is record of problems. I have experienced first hand of the issues of getting changes made. The last thing a company wants is injury claims and workers comp claims no matter how minor or major. I would recommend that you look under wellness at the ergonomics pages. They can be a lot of help in setting yourself up with a better fitting space. I am part of the ergonomic group at my place of employment. There are lots of politics in getting things fixed. You need to have an evaluation done, then the group can suggest possible fixes and then its up to the area manager to make that change. I don't know if this helps...
    Tracie C
  • Its an HR issue. Bring it to their atgention, however I would keep it about yourself and not take a poll at the office. As Tracie said, they don't want a possible OSHA or WC issue so I am sure they can accomadate YOU. But I would not go in there looking for them to replace the furniture.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,858
    edited 01/26/2015 - 4:54 AM
    many times in the past.
    No secret that I worked for IBM for 35 years. During the early 1980's I was put on a task force to look at the best ergonomic workstation. We had all sorts of tools, tests, measurements. Height of monitors, mouse position, keyboard, etc.

    Since at that time I was a multiple lumbar patient and having cervical problems, I was working on a design for an office chair.
    I had a prescription from a doctor and I worked with a furniture designer. We finally came up with a chair. It had everything, arm rests, elbow rests, lumbar support, cervical support, you name it for a spinal patient it did everything. It was though the ugliest thing in the world. Nothing like the office chairs you see today. I used it for 6 months to evaluate it.

    Bottom line, no matter how you set up your workstation, no matter what kind of perfect chair you use, there is nothing that is going to really help you. The answer is not in the equipment, but what you can do.

    Getting up at least every 50 minutes, stretching, walking around, etc for at least 10 minutes before you went back to work.
    Doing that, I could put in more hours in a day, then if I worked straight hours.

    We put a team of 10 programmers to test this. The ones that had less pain and physical impact were the ones that got out
    and walked around. Those that stayed at their 'perfect' ergonomic workstation environment did suffer.

    My last 5 years with IBM I worked from home. My chair? A big green exercises ball! Provided the best posture to sit as at a computer.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I was strongly looking into the exercise ball or a similar balance stool, but my office has clients visit, and management vetoed this idea, saying they thought it would look unprofessional. I've also read some issues with the balls, that they tone but not necessarily help with posture. Like I said I am getting up more frequently, and unfortunately I already have tried to get some support from others. We do not have an ergonomic committee, do you think this is something I can bring up to HR?

    I'm also not convinced that work stations don't make a difference, my eye level monitor was out a few months back, so I worked from my laptop. my neck was killing me until I got it back.
    Scoliosis is the least of my problems, but still need some help every once in a while
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,858
    edited 01/29/2015 - 6:29 AM
    handles different things. But I would have to imagine any company with more than 100 people, this is the exact type of subject you would go to HR about.

    I can understand the companies view on professionalism. Well, its accepted that people with other handicaps have equipment at their desk to make them more productive. Really, its no different than what you are looking into. It just may not be the 'norm' or what people have seen before. However, when a company value its employee, things like the exercise ball can easily be overlooked or explained to a customer.

    Dont get me wrong about workstation setups. They can help, but more than anything if not designed problem they can led to more problems. Still, there is no substitute for getting up and moving around.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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