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Work in a Sitting Position

Viimati uuendatud: 25.02.2017

Work in a Sitting Position

The last decades show that physical labour and the proportion of employees performing it is on the decrease. It is being replaced with positions and jobs done mostly in the sitting position. Nowadays, a human normally sits 8-12 hours a day. This is mostly connected with the widespread use of computers – both as a work instrument or a communication means at the workplace. Computers are most common in offices and the IT sector, but also among drivers and many other positions.

Work in a sitting position is characterized by low physical activity and on the other hand, the great relative importance of mental strain. Sitting is the most common position at work, but it would be best to often switch between the sitting and standing positions.

The main health influence in the sitting position are the body’s support and movement apparatus problems, caused mainly by the inappropriateness of the workplace – the incompatibility of furniture, tools and tasks. Work in a sitting position often causes muscle complaints, caused mostly by sitting in the same position for an extended time. Most common are neck and shoulder pains, lower back complaints, strain on wrists and arms. It is also caused by the wrong position of the tool, table and chair, and their arrangement – incompatibility with the employee’s physical characteristics.

The sitting position brings along such hazards as constipation, varix, posture disorder, back pain, and in women, the pelvic organ prolapse due to the weakened lower vaginal muscles, which could cause malposition of the uterus. Even though work in a sitting position requires minimum bodily movement, keeping the body position forces several muscle groups to work, which strain after working hours without taking any breaks.

Two principles must be adhered to for achieving the correct working position: tools must enable to work with a natural body position, that is, tools must be adjustable within required limits; and the workplace must be adjusted, taking into account the uniqueness of each employee. When working in the sitting position, it must be remembered to avoid constant sitting – it must be possible to change leg position, legs must be supported on the floor or footrest, and it is strongly advised not to work in a turned, bowed or strained position. The chair must have an adjustable backsupport and sitting height; the seat material must be air-penetrating, and the front edge should slightly tilt forwards. It is also important that other tools (desk, monitor, etc.) would not create a sense of discomfort nor forced positions in any part of the body.


In the case of a sitting work, sufficient room below the work surface and the seat is necessary to move the legs. The recommended room width is 60 cm, depth on the knee-level 45 cm and on the floor 65 cm. When working in a standing position, there should be 15 cm of room in height and in depth for the foot. Recommended free space behind a standing employee is 90 cm (in the case they do not handle heavy objects).

Constantly used seat must enable to adjust the height and back support, and have an air-penetrating upholstery.

A seat used by several employees must be easily adjustable. Necessity for a chair with a high back support and adjustable armrests depends on the work. Employees who stand up must have a high chair that can be used as a temporary support and rest.

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