A. Workstation design should be based on a careful assessment of all aspects of the job to ensure that each task can be carried out safely, comfortably and as efficiently as possible. A well-designed workstation allows the worker to be seated at a comfortable height and position in relation to the work.
B. Finding the best kinds of chairs for employees can involve carrying out user trials. For example, people of different shapes and sizes could try out a sample seat for a period. Some suppliers may be willing to supply seating on approval. Nevertheless, it is recommended that employees and safety representatives are consulted on any changes to be made to the workplace or workstation, and this includes seating.
C. To ensure that seating is safe and has a good service life, it must be treated properly. It is bad practice to put undue pressure on the armrests by sitting on them, or leaning too heavily over them. Rocking backwards and forwards may cause damage or cause the seat to become unsafe. Employers need to ensure that seating remains in a clean, safe condition, checking seating regularly for signs of damage or excessive wear.
D. Employers need to be able to spot the signs that suggest seating is uncomfortable. Simply asking employees if their seat is comfortable is sometimes enough to assess whether a problem exists. It is better for employers to take the initiative in providing suitable seating, and not wait until complaints are received or until workers take time off with back pain. Employees also need to play their part by telling their employers if seating is unsuitable or unsafe.
E. Employers need to ensure that work is organised to allow people to be seated wherever possible. In some circumstances, however, sitting may not be possible, for instance where work has to be done over a large area or where constant handling of heavy objects cannot be avoided. In this case, employers need to ensure that workers take adequate rest breaks and that suitable comfortable seating is provided during those breaks.
F. Particular arrangements or design may need to be taken into consideration for some employees so that a disabled person is not at any substantial disadvantage compared with a non-disabled person. For instance, workers using wheelchairs may need to have the workstation access widened and the height of their workstation modified and pregnant workers may require seating that can be adjusted without requiring awkward, bent postures.
G. Employers must make sure they have assessed any dangers or possible harm in the workplace, including seating. This involves identifying hazards and deciding whether enough has been done to prevent harm to people. Achieving this involves certain steps that employers can take such as looking for the hazards, deciding who might be harmed, evaluating the dangers, and recording the findings.