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Hours, weeks, possibly months of back pain ... or spending a few minutes to determine if it's time to purchase a new chair?
As you probably know, most people spend several hours a day planted in their office chair and health experts agree: an old chair that no longer supports your body correctly can cause back pain. Perform the following assessment to determine if it's time to invest in a new chair.
How long can you sit in your chair before it becomes uncomfortable? According to the Cornell University Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group, if the seat becomes uncomfortable after prolonged sitting (1–2 hours), the padding may be wearing thin and losing its resilience, signaling the need for a new chair.
Does the base of your chair have four arms (four–point) or five arms (five–point)? The National Institutes of Health recommend a five–point chair base for maximum stability and minimal chance of the chair tipping.
In fact, Tom Reardon, executive director of the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association, says furniture manufacturers stopped making chairs with four–point bases in the 1980s because they weren't considered as safe as five–point chair bases.
Do all of the chair's casters still roll? Have any broken off? Keep in mind that a chair with an uneven number of casters will compromise the chair's stability.
Are the armrests broken? Does the chair creak or crack when you sit down? Do all of the levers, such as seat–height, knee–tilt, tilt–lock, and seat/back angle adjustment, still work? Inspect the entire chair to ensure that all of the key comfort and safety features still operate correctly.
Is the fabric, vinyl, or leather torn or worn? Remember the chair's appearance will generally not affect your comfort, but it may influence the image you project to your customers.
How old is your chair? The good news is quality office chairs are built to last. According to Reardon, if you sit in your chair eight hours a day, five days a week it should last an average of ten years. However, this life span assumes normal use and regular care.
If you work significantly longer hours or have several shift employees sharing chairs, the chair's life may be considerably shorter.