Chair ErgonomicsChair ergonomics — and ergonomics in general — is complex enough on its own to implement in the workplace. With so many different body types and behaviors to account for, ergonomists have their hands full when creating fully customized supportive environments with adjustable ergonomic peripherals and furniture. The problem, however, becomes all the more difficult for people who are either extremely tall or extremely short, as it can be difficult to find ergonomic products that fit them exactly. This is because most furniture is designed for people who fall within the 5th to 95th percentile. It leaves anyone who falls outside this range to suffer with a wide range of painful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Without the support of their employers for new, costly chairs, employees resort to a number of solutions, including:

1) Subterfuge.

If the employer has bought a special chair for a colleague in the past and that colleague leaves the company, it makes sense to grab it before anyone else can.

2) Hacking their chairs.

Shorter people often bring in their own boxes upon which they can rest their feet. On the other hand, taller people have been known to simply build their own or work from a medicine ball.

The real solution, however, is employer support. In fact, aside from the morality of the situation, not providing this kind of support is economically shortsighted. Sure, special chairs can be costly, but that upfront investment pales in comparison to workers compensation claims. What’s more, more and more cost-effective adjustable furniture is hitting the market, so that investment doesn’t even have to be that hefty anymore.

For a closer look at this fascinating topic, we highly recommend this Wall Street Journal article, Searching High and Low for a Just Right Chair.

How have you hacked your chair to fit your body? Let us know in the comments below.

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