Working in a sitting position
The recent decades have shown that the proportion of manual work and those performing it is declining, being replaced by occupations and jobs that are mainly done while sitting. Nowadays, a person usually sits 8–12 hours a day. This is mostly related to the widespread use of computers as both a work and communication tool in the workplace. It is most common in offices and information technology, but also among drivers and many other professions.
Working in a sitting position is characterised, on the one hand, by low physical activity and, on the other hand, by a high proportion of mental strain. In the working situation, sitting is the main body position, but the best option is to change the sitting and upright position frequently during working hours.
The main health effects of working in a sitting position are musculoskeletal problems, the causes of which can be traced to the mismatch between the workplace, especially furniture, work equipment and the duties to be performed. Sedentary work often causes muscle problems, mainly due to prolonged stay in the same position. The most common are neck and shoulder pain, lower back ailments, fatigue of the wrists and arms. The reason is the incorrect position and placement of the work equipment, table and chair in relation to the employee, i.e. the non-compliance of the workplace with the physical characteristics of the employee.
A sitting position is associated with risks such as constipation, varicose veins, posture disorders, back pain and, in women, sagging of the pelvic floor organs due to loosening of the pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to uterine misalignment. Although sedentary work requires only minimal movements of the body, maintaining the body position forces many muscle groups to work, which, after long hours of no rest, become tired as a result of work.
Correct working position is achieved if these two principles are met:
- it must be possible to use the work equipment in a natural position, i.e. the equipment must be adjustable within the required limits
- the workplace must be regulated according to the specifics of each individual employee.
When working in a sitting position, it is important to remember to take pauses from sitting, use the possibility to change the position of the legs at any time, the legs should be supported on the floor or on a footrest, and work must not be performed in a twisted, bent or tense position. The chair must have an adjustable backrest and seat height, a breathable thin padding if possible, and the seat should be curved downwards. Also, with other work equipment used (table, display screen, etc.), it is important that they do not cause discomfort or forced positions in any part of the body.