The Importance of Ergonomic Chairs — And Why Second-Hand Can Be A Beneficial Choice

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Did you know that in the UK alone, around 6.9 million work days a year are lost to musculoskeletal disorders? This goes to show that an ergonomic DSE assessment is more than just a way to keep your employees working happy. It's a legal requirement and a proactive way to prevent absenteeism. But did you also know that work-related back pain is the leading cause of poor productivity in the UK? Or that using an ergonomic office chair could reduce absenteeism by 75%?

Employees are spending longer than ever with DSE. But using a poorly designed workstation can lead to eyestrain, headaches, and pain in the back, neck and arms. Using an ergonomic chair is a time-tested solution for issues caused by prolonged working at a desk. 

Let’s take a look at the importance of ergonomic chairs in the workplace and why second-hand can be a good choice for your business.

Why is an ergonomic chair important?

Ergonomics studies the relationship between workers and their environment, which is critical to promoting productivity and creativity. During a DSE assessment, we look at the whole workstation environment, including the set-up of your ergonomic chair.  

A well-designed ergonomic desk chair is built for comfort and efficiency. The headrest and backrest prevent undue pressure on the spine, neck and pelvis, helping prevent musculoskeletal disorders.

Adjustability is a critical feature of your ergonomic chair, making it suitable for all users. Seat height, back and armrests — if your chair has them — should all be customisable for comfort and satisfaction. When properly adjusted, your ergonomic chair should be fully supportive, allowing you to sit with your knees forming a right angle and your feet flat on the floor. 

A comfortable ergonomic chair for back pain can also boost productivity and reduce absenteeism. In fact, research shows that workers deliver a 17.7% increase in productivity using an ergonomic office chair. 

Consequently, the best ergonomic office chair has to work hard to combine functionality, adjustability, comfort, aesthetics and durability. 

The benefits of used ergonomic chairs

It's clear that using ergonomic chairs is good for business. But equipping even a small office represents a significant investment. Then there's our trend-driven fast furniture culture that drives endless refurbishments and sees millions of pieces of functional office furniture end up in landfill. 

As a result, the market for used ergonomic furniture is booming. And there are significant benefits to opting for pre-owned ergonomic office chairs. 

Cost savings for organisations

First and foremost, when you purchase second-hand, you pay a fraction of the original sale price for high-quality ergonomic chairs. Buying from a reputable source ensures your furniture is professionally cleaned and usable.

Purchasing good quality used ergonomic office chairs is a cost-effective way to provide furniture for office and home-based employees. Additionally, it's an affordable way to get your hands on a premium piece from a high-end brand, like a Herman Miller ergonomic mesh chair.

Sustainability and environmental impact

According to WRAP, 1.8 million office chairs end up in landfill annually in the UK. So buying second-hand is a sustainable choice that supports the circular economy. For every used ergonomic chair you purchase, you're reducing carbon emissions and waste and contributing to sustainability targets. 

By not buying into the fast furniture mindset, you're ensuring that another chair isn't being made and shipped, often halfway across the globe. That represents a significant reduction in the carbon footprint. Additionally, some office chair materials are bad for the environment and bad for health. Consequently, making sustainable choices, like buying second-hand a mesh ergonomic office chair, is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of your office. 

The rise of home and hybrid working

The shift in working culture due to the pandemic has had a raft of unforeseen consequences. First, home and hybrid working are here to stay. And that move away from the office means an increased supply of used ergonomic desk chairs as businesses downsize their office footprint.

What doesn't change is an employer's duty of care towards their entire team. You'll be required to provide DSE workstation assessments and ergonomic equipment for your WFH employees. Obviously, buying multiple ergonomic chairs for home use can be costly. In those circumstances, buying second-hand furniture for home workers can make a significant saving.

Tips for purchasing used ergonomic chairs

Clearly, buying a second-hand ergonomic office chair makes sense on several levels. But how can you make sure you're getting the best deal? 

  1. Evaluate the chair's condition

Don't just look at the features when buying a second-hand ergonomic chair. For example, while adjustable head and backrests are essential, you must check that their mechanisms are in perfect working order for ease of use.

Always test the chair before you buy, taking note of the following checklist:

  • Do any adjustment levers work smoothly?
  • Are recline angles and armrests securely lockable?
  • Does the tension control adjust easily?
  • Are the casters secure, and do they roll easily so they won't damage your floors?
  • Is the upholstery stained or torn, and are there any unpleasant odours? 
  • Are there any cracks or damage to plastic and metal pieces, particularly the armrests and wheels?
  • Are you buying a Herman Miller or another high-end brand? If so, is there a label of authenticity (usually found on the underside of the seat)?

  1. Ensure the chair meets your ergonomic needs

When buying an ergonomic chair second-hand, it's critical that it meets your needs. There's no point in purchasing an iconic piece if it's not comfortable and supportive. So make sure the chair is the right size, and the lumbar support is in the correct position for your body — or the body of the person who will be using it.

First, with your back against the backrest, there should be a 2-3" space between the back of your knees and the front of the chair. The lumbar support should meet the small of your back. Check that the height is adjustable to view your monitor at eye level.

Finally, prioritise the features you're not prepared to compromise on. For example, if durability, ventilation and comfort are high on your list, look for a second-hand mesh ergonomic chair.

  1. Support local businesses and suppliers

Buying second-hand is an excellent way to support the local economy while getting the chance to try out your chair first-hand. Plus, seeing the chair in person means you can assess defects and damage for yourself.

You're also better positioned to determine whether your purchase is an authentic ergonomic office chair or a fake, saving time and hassle in the future.

Where to find used ergonomic chairs

You’ll find a plethora of used office chairs on social media marketplaces and other online sites. However, to make sure you get a good quality, authentic item, we recommend buying ergonomic chairs from a local dealer. Ideally, look for authorised dealers who may have returns on ergonomic chairs they're willing to sell at a discount. If you do opt for an online marketplace of classifieds ads, ensure you see the chair in person before making payment.

Office liquidators often have an extensive inventory, including ergonomic desk chairs and other furniture.

Used ergonomic chairs: a win-win for employers and staff

As an employer, reducing the risk of injury is a legal requirement. But whether you're committed to sustainability or working on a limited budget, buying second-hand ergonomic chairs can be a win-win for staff and employers. Especially if you strike it lucky and find a bargain on a design classic like a Herman Miller Aeron ergonomic mesh chair.

Ergonomics are a critical part of a comfortable and risk-free work environment. So when you've made your purchase, book a DSE assessment with the team at Workhappy to ensure the comfort and safety of all your employees.