Do you have one or more employees who use a wheelchair or scooter to get around? Don’t assume that simply modifying a workstation for wheelchair access is all that’s required. You might not realize that a chair that is used for transportation and general mobility around the house and on the go isn’t necessarily a good fit for an office environment. In fact, workers with disabilities have many of the same ergonomic needs as all your other employees. They need a real office chair that provides the functionality and support to help them stay comfortable and productive on the job.
Traditional Ergonomic Features
What does an office task chair have that might be lacking on a wheelchair or scooter?
- Height Adjustment – workers need to be able to bring the chair up or down for a nice fit with their workstation, keeping their arms and wrists in proper alignment, and promoting good circulation.
- Lumbar Support – This is another feature that can really help employees with disabilities maintain a healthy posture throughout a long work day. An inflatable or adjustable back support can help relieve strain.
- Back and Seat Adjustment – Tilting, locking and other seat/back features permit movement into multiple positions for maximum comfort for various tasks. The seat may need to have special padding to relieve pressure.
- Adjustable Arm Rests – Ideally, arms should be adjustable for height, width, and angle to provide easy access to all workspace equipment. For side transfers, it can be very helpful to have arms that adjust all the way down to seat level.
Special Ergonomic Features
In addition to the standard features listed above, an ergonomic chair for workers with mobility challenges might need to include:
- A padded head or neck rest
- A foot rest or foot plate
- Split seat with independently adjustable seat flaps
- Abduction block (to separate the legs for proper pelvic alignment)
- Body and/or thigh supports
The whole chair may need to be motorized for easy, independent movement. It will also require brakes and/or locking casters to prevent unwanted movement. The only way to know for sure what type of office chair will work best is to do an in-depth ergonomics review with the help of the employee who will be using the chair every day.