Following a recent report recommending office workers spend more time standing up, an industry ergonomics expert talks about the benefits of standing up at work and the importance of making sure you have the right furniture.
“The sitting body is not an inert bag of bones dumped on a seat, it is a live organism in need of a dynamic state of constant activity. If you alternate between standing and sitting in the office you would be fitter and healthier. For people in busy jobs the idea needs to be practical and standing up at a low level desk designed for sitting can force you to stoop, giving you back pain.” said Levent Çaglar, Chief Ergonomist for FIRA International Ltd.
Office workers can spend 84% of working time in a seated position, 10% standing and just 6% moving around. Even people who regularly visit the gym are at risk of damaging their health by being in a prolonged static posture. The human body is not designed to sit for any length of time and we are more suited to standing up or walking. Any static posture, whether sitting, standing or even sleeping has adverse affects on your posture and eventually on your wellbeing.
Levent heads up FIRA’s Ergonomics Team which provides consultancy services to furniture users, including offices, banks and blue chip companies about ergonomics. Ergonomics is the application of specialist knowledge to the process of product design in order to ensure that the finished item offers its user optimum comfort, safety and efficiency.
He continued: “Using a surface at the right height for you when standing up will allow you to workmore comfortably. A surface should be roughly at or slightly lower than your elbow height when standing. The best solution is to use a desk that adjusts in height from sitting to standing. Alternatively, a suitable surface could be a high table, filing cabinet or other storage unit, to allow you to make notes while on the phone, work using your laptop or to sort through paperwork. It is important that when you work standing up, you also move around.
“I am a great believer that standing up at work has significant health benefits. When I used to sit down all day, even in well designed chairs, I found that I felt tired. I startedstanding up for some of the day and realised that I no longer felt this negative effect. That was 15 years ago. Now I stand for as much of my day as possible and would never go back to sitting only.”
A number of recent studies show that extended sitting is the biggest cause of musculoskeletal disorders, in particular back pain in offices. Rodney Graham, the Rheumatology Professors in University College Hospital London, referred to this phenomenon as ‘chair disease’ and pointed out the dangers of sitting for prolonged periods and he stated the benefits of standing at times during the day.
For advice on how to achieve good sit/stand solutions and ergonomics advice to improve your work environments and efficiency of your staff, please contact Levent Çaglar, Chief Ergonomist for FIRA, on 01438 777 700, or by emailing LCaglar@fira.co.uk. Find out more about FIRA Ergonomics visit the website http://www.fira.co.uk/consultancy/ergonomics.