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Classroom Task Chair Checklist


With the proliferation of computers in classrooms across the country and a growing concern for health and safety issues, it is important to provide the best learning environment possible and to recognize the need for proper ergonomics training.

There are key differences between the ideal task chair for the office and the ideal classroom task chair. While budgetary constraints may limit your choices, making a purchasing decision based solely on initial price may result in a costly mistake.

It is important to remember that office chairs are purchased to be used by a single individual and are not required to make the number of adjustments daily to meet the needs of many users.

Since durability is an issue, the number and types of adjustments to be made should be limited to those necessary for learning activities and the methods used to make adjustments should be durable and easy to perform.

This chart may help to make the selection process a little easier.

Ergonomics, Durability
and Safety Issues
Typical Office Chair Options
Classroom Chair
Ideal upright seating position is achieved with feet flat on the floor and both the angle between back and thigh and the angle at the knee slightly more than 90 degrees.
Spin-Lift or Lever/Button activated pneumatic (gas) cylinder mechanism.
Lever/Button activated pneumatic cylinder preferred. Quicker adjustment and shock absorption from multiple seating impacts.
For long periods of use, certain close tasks (WP, DTP, CAD and graphics, etc.) require forward-tilt capabilities to protect the back and neck from undue stress.
Lever/Button activated
Seat-Tilt function is unnecessary for the classroom. For all day seminars, however, the tilt function may be helpful.
Long-term sitting can cut off the circulation to the lower legs if the seat front is too close to the back of the knee. On the other hand, taller users need support under the thighs to relieve some of the pressure on the buttocks.
  1. Back tilts with hand wheel or lever adjustment and/or
  2. Back slides out - hand wheel and/or
  3. Seat slides forward - lever or
  4. Synchroneous adjustment.
Back tilts - lever adjustment preferred. It is the most durable and, with proper seat and back design, is adequate to meet the shorter term needs of the student
Supports buttocks and thighs. Saddle seat offers support in tilt-forward mode, split seat meets special needs.
Flat seat, flat seat with waterfall front edge, modified saddle seat, deep saddle seat, split seat.
Flat, extra-wide (19") seat with waterfall front edge fits the widest variety of body shapes and provides adequate support for classroom applications.
Reduces stress on the abdomen and lower back depending on the users preference and needs.
Back tilt with hand wheel or lever.
Back tilts with lever adjustment. The hand wheel is not as durable as the lever.
Supports shoulders and upper middle back as required by certain tasks.
Ratchet, Push-Button, or Hand Wheel
The relatively short duration of the typical class does not require any adjustment.
Supports upper torso.
Various shapes and sizes, some with a built in form to support lumbar region.
Medium height back slightly concave vertically. Fits the largest number of users and requires no height adjustment.
Seat &
Allows reach-back and leg flex. Rocking motion and tilt enhance blood flow.
Lever activated with tilt-lock in any position with pivot point at chair center or under knee or synchronious back and seat tilt (normally 2:1).
Not necessary for computer classroom applications unless training sessions are to last 4 hours or more.
Ease of positioning. Reduces twist stress on lower back.
Standard, but fixed mechanisms available for conference applications.
Generally standard on all chairs.
Ease of positioning encourages correct posture and posture changes for varying tasks.
Single or double wheel hard casters for carpeted surfaces. Soft single or double wheel casters for hard surface flooring. Glides available to reduce mobility.
Very important that chairs roll smoothly and that casters are correct for floor surface. Caster durability is an issue. Purchase extra casters for repairs.
Adequate floor contact prevents tipping and injury.
Four, five, and six point bases available. Additional contact points add more stability and reduce required floor space.
Five point configuration uses least floor space, prevents tipping even when chair is not occupied but with heavy coat draped over back.
Prevent structural failure and injury.
Combination of plastics, metal and wood to provide stable seating platform for normal load range (up to 250 lbs is BIFMA standard).
Check welds for consistency, plastic components for durability, total unit for ease of maintenance.
Ease of use and access encourages proper adjustment of the task chair and encourages healthy sitting.
Levers, push buttons, hand wheels, locking pins, etc.
Lever/Push Button preferred. Lever tucked under the seat surface to prevent snagging on clothes, book bag, etc. Lever of sufficient strength to endure many daily adjustments. Springs, gaskets, etc. concealed. Control paddle(s) labeled.
Back should give firm support without applying undue pressure to any single area. Back panel should be protected if chair will chafe against furniture behind it.
variety of substrates (plastic, plywood, metal, fabric and metal mesh webbing) upholstered in a variety of foams and batting.
Plywood substrate with multi-density foam padding and PVC back shell. Plywood permits ease of reupholstery. PVC shell protects back and provides a snag-free surface.
To Frame
Should provide stable support with little or no wobble. Some flex, however, is desireable.
Various materials and methods of attachment.
Angled metal support in PVC sleeve. No protrusions to snag or injure anything or anyone to the rear of user.
Seat pan should give firm support without applying undue pressure to any single area. Seat edges should be protected if chair will chafe against furniture behind it. Pan under seat should be easy to maintain and protect mechanism.
A variety of substrates (plastic, plywood, metal, fabric and metal mesh webbing) upholstered in a variety of foams and batting. Pan under seat covered in cambric, cardboard, PVC.
Plywood substrate with multi-density foam padding and PVC shell under seat pad. PVC protects the mechanism from vandalism and provides an easier surface from which to remove gum.
To Frame
Should provide stable support with little or no wobble.
Various materials and methods of attachment.
Durability is a major issue. BIFMA Standards are only a minimum requirement, not a gauge of strength.
Supports shoulders, arms, wrists. Encourages correct posture.
Available in many configurations - fixed and adjustable.
Adjustable height arm rests should be provided if sessions last longer than 2 hours. Should be removeable or offer seat width adjustment.
GSA OGS New York State TX MAS