Home What do we do ? Influenza FAQs Forms Employee Assistance Programme UCL Health Related Policies Work Health Health Promotions Health Links Site A - Z Feedback HR Home
Work Health

Office Wise - A Guide to Good Health in the Office

Choosing an Office Chair

With more and more of your time now being spent using display screen equipment (DSE), it is vital that your chair allows a wide range of movement whilst giving support where it is needed. This will help reduce the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) by encouraging you to maintain the "S" shaped curve of your back, and to use the most efficient posture for the task performed.

The following points should help you choose an appropriate chair for your needs. Your local DSE Assessor can also help; your DSO / departmental administrator will be able to tell you who this is.

DSE Assessment

Remember - the chair may not be the source of your discomfort; always ask your DSE Assessor to perform a basic DSE assessment if you have not had one done. This will ensure your current equipment is laid out so it promotes healthy postures. Further guidance relating to DSE assessment can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/efd/safety_services_www/guidance/dse/index.htm

Seat Height Adjustment

seat height adjustment This is the first adjustment to be made and, when correct, should allow your hands to float just above the keyboard, with forearms parallel to the floor and elbows vertically in line with your shoulders.

Foot rest

A foot rest may be required if, once your seat height has been adjusted as described above, you cannot place your feet flat on the floor. A foot rest should support your feet and enable you to sit with your hips and knees at right angles, without pressure under the thighs and backs of knees

Seat Depth Adjustment

The seat depth should support your thighs, and allow 2 fingers to fit comfortably in the gap between the edge of the seat and the backs of your knees when you sit back against the backrest.

Backrest Height Adjustment

backrest height adjustment
Ensure the back rest adjusts to sufficiently support the lumbar curve, the height of which varies from person to person.

Backrest Reclining Feature

backrest reclining feature
Reclining in your chair (in combination with a seat tilt function if available ) when talking on phone, reading etc., reduces back strain by allowing the body to rest whilst also maintaining the lumbar curve.

Height Adjustable Armrests

If choosing a chair with arm rests ensure:

Seat Tilt

seat tilt The seat should allow a slight forward (negative) tilt so that when sitting your knees are slightly lower (5-15°) than your hips. This rotates the pelvis forward, encouraging the lumbar spine to maintain its natural curve; this will reduce stress on the spine

Modifying your Current Chair

You may wish to adjust / modify your current chair to make it more supportive:

seat tilt
Seat tilt - use a seat wedge
lumbar cushions
Lumbar cushions come in a variety of shapes/sizes to provide more lumbar support

Occupational Health Assessment / Advice

If you experience persistent aches and pains that have not been resolved by the DSE Assessment, or have a diagnosed musculoskeletal disorder please seek advice from an Occupational Health Adviser (OHA)(020 7679 2802, internal ext. 32802) before making any purchases / significant changes to your equipment.

Purchasing the Chair