FAQs > Organizing your environment ergonomically > What do I look for in an ergonomic chair?

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In order to help make sure you choose a chair with all the necessary adjustments, here is some information on the different chair components:

Seat Pan

  • The seat pan is the component of the chair that supports the majority of the user's weight and should have a 'waterfall' or downward sloping front edge to reduce contact with the thigh.     
  • When sitting all the way back in the chair with your back in full contact with the backrest, there should be a 2-3 finger size gap between the back of the knees and the front edge of the seat pan to reduce pressure at the back of the calves.        
  • A sliding mechanism (sliding seat pan) allows short and tall users to adjust distance from the back rest to adjust for thigh length.
  • Width of seat pan should be at least one inch wider than the hips.


  • Adjustable height backrest and lumbar support is very important to accommodate for different heights of users.
  • The best lumbar support offers both vertical and depth adjustment.  The most basic lumbar support is adjusted vertically as you raise and lower the chair backrest.  A  fixed depth lumbar support is acceptable if it fits you well and does adjust vertically.


  • Armrests are optional.  If included, the armrest should be made of a soft material and should be at least 2" wide to provide adequate surface area.
  • Need sufficient adjustability to allow arms to hang freely without elbow contact while typing and mousing.
  • Armrests are adjusted so as not to come in contact with the desk edge when moving chair in and out.        

Seat Height

  • Allows the user to adjust the chair so their feet can rest properly on the floor or footrest and the upper body is properly aligned with the computer monitor and input devices such as the keyboard and mouse (elbows 1½ inches higher than desk top).
  •  The requirements for seat height can vary considerable, not only due to varying height of the individuals, but also because of workstation heights.  Adjustable workstation (desk) heights allow users to properly adjust chair followed by proper desk height.  If the desk is not height adjustable, the chair will need sufficient seat  post height adjustability to meet the needs of the users combined with the fixed desk height.     

Casters & Base

  • Use a chair with casters and a 5-point base to ease movement and minimize possible tipping.
  • Nylon carpet casters are generally standard, but soft wheel casters are available for hard surfaces such as linoleum.
  • Insure casters roll easily on floor or mat.

It is very important for intended users to try out chair before purchase to help insure proper fit.  Keep in mind that at least a week’s trial may be necessary to learn if the chair will work for the intended user.

It is suggested that employer’s choose a good chair as the standard chair to avoid random chair purchases within the organization.

Last updated on August 10, 2012 by Bob Meyer