Bulletin 98-03

February 20, 1998

Specifications/Standards - Ergonomic Chairs



DATE ISSUED: February 20, 1998



The attached ergonomic chair specifications have been developed by a task force of the Council of Environmental Health and Safety Officers (EH&S) in cooperation with the Procurement and Support Services Officers Association.

These specifications were developed with a view toward addressing ergonomic requirements for employees of both genders that fit within a 95% range for height. The specifications are intended to be inclusive and not exclusive in relationship to production chairs available on the open market. Major furniture manufacturers and Prison Industry Authority currently carry chairs which meet these minimum ergonomic specifications.

These specifications may be used, at the discretion of the campus, to supplement campus requirements for furniture acquisitions. Durability and cost of product was not a factor in the preparation of these specifications.

Ergonomic Task Force Members:

  • Stephen Orsak, [Chair] Director, EH&S, CSUSM, (760) 750-4510
  • William Cooper, Director, Purchasing, CSUN, (818) 677-5916
  • Ray Macias, Director, Support Services, SLO, (805) 756-2234
  • Charles Hughes, Director, Procurement, CSULB, (562) 985-4296
  • Barbara Brenner, Director, EH&S, CSUB, (805) 664-2066
  • Helen Snyder, Human Services Specialist, Sonoma (707) 664-2932
  • Sherry Dorithy, Product Manager, Wood & Metal, PIA, (916) 358-1758

  • Ergonomic Chair Specifications

    This specification is intended to address employees of both sex that fall into the 95th percentile range of height. Employees that fall outside this perimeter will be accommodated with the purchase of special ergonomic chairs. Special ergonomic chairs are not the subject of these specifications. Environmental Health and Safety Services at each campus should be consulted if special ergonomic chairs are required. This specification will address the following type of chairs:

    a) Manager/Executive chair

    b) Support Staff task chair

    Specifications for both types of chairs (a & b).



    1) The chair base will have a five point base unit with casters that will roll across carpeted floors without pulling the carpet into the caster housing. The casters should be large enough to require a minimum of effort to move the chair. The five point base will measure not less than twenty-three inches across.

    2) The set pan will be adjustable for forward and backward tilt angle independent of lumbar support adjustment.

    3) The forward leading edge of the seat pan will cascade to a rounded edge that has a downward sloping angle, and shall have a concave contour for even weight distribution. The cushion deformation measured at the center of the seat pan shall be no more than one inch, as measured from a plane formed by a straight edge laid across the top of the seat of the pan.

    4) The entire upper chair assembly will be capable of 360 rotation.

    5) The backrest will be contoured to provide lumbar support and be adjustable for height and for angles ranging from behind the vertical to forward of the vertical position. The back support will have a vertical height adjustment span of at least three and one-half inches. The height adjustment may be achieved with one gross adjustment or with a combination of adjustment mechanisms.

    6) Arm supports shall be adjustable for height and be removable. The height adjustment will be at least two and one half inches, as measured from the lowest position of the armrest to the full-extended position of the armrest. The armrest should be easily removed and adjustable without the use of tools.

    7) All adjustment mechanisms will be readily operable and within easy reach of the chair user. Adjustments will be capable of being accomplished without the use of tools. It is preferred that adjustment mechanisms be provided with labels as to their function.



    1) The roller casters should be removable and capable of being replaced.

    2) The seat pan of the Support Staff Chair will measure at least 16" deep and 19" wide as measured from the front of the seat pan to the rear of the pan, and from one side of the pan to the other side of the plan. The seat pan of the Manager/Executive chair will measure at least 16" deep and 22" wide, as measured from the same points as the Support Staff chair.

    3) The lumbar support and seat cushion is to be composed of high-density foam material.

    4) The Support Staff Chair will be available with height adjustment from 16" to 21" as measured from the floor to the top edge of the seat pan. The Manager/Executive Chair will be available with a height adjustment from 17" to 22". The height is measured when the chair is in an uncompressed state.

    5) The Manager/Executive Chair will have a backrest that measures at least 22" in height as measured from the bottom of the backrest to the top of the backrest. The Support Staff Chair will have a backrest that is at least 16" in height, as measured from the bottom of the backrest to the top of the backrest.

    6) The seat pan of both chairs will adjust forward at least 2". This action will move the seat pan forward away from the backrest for the prescribed distance and provide a longer seat pan reach.

    7) Both chairs will meet or exceed ANSI/BIFMA (X5.1), 1993 Standards.

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