From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Getting an Ergonomic Chair Now Requires a Doctor’s Note

If you’re looking for an ergonomic upgrade in your office chair, be forewarned: depending on where you work, you may need a doctor’s note to get it.

That was the message delivered to county workers in Collin County, Texas, last Tuesday night as county commissioners decided to revise their furniture policy after a handful of workers requested new, ergonomic chairs that the county deemed too pricey for workers who didn’t have a documented medical need.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the chairs requested retailed at about $900 a piece, although specific brands and models weren’t offered. The standard desk chair that the county supplies costs around $250.

The county’s new policy states that workers who want an ergonomic chair will have to supply a note from their doctor in order to get one. The Dallas Morning News quoted a memo from the county’s purchasing director stating that the policy change would prevent “unnecessary chair replacement expenses” while also reducing the county’s liability associated with injury claims.

“We want to make sure the need is there,” Collin County Commissioner Joe Jaynes told the Dallas Morning News. “The chairs are pretty expensive. If there is a need, we definitely want to supply them.”

Desk chairs are often considered to be the single most important piece of ergonomic equipment for office workers. Studies have shown that approximately two-thirds of workers in the United States spend over 75 percent of their work day sitting in an office chair.

It should be noted, however, that merely supplying a worker with an “ergonomic” chair may not be enough to achieve the desired outcome from the chair, whether that be improved productivity or decreased exposure to injury risk factors. As was reported recently in The Ergonomics ReportTM, worker behavior is also a factor in the successful adoption of ergonomic equipment