From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

School Furniture May Not Fit Students

Recent research regarding secondary school children in New Zealand found that the furniture students use every day may be too tall and too shallow for the majority of students.

Looking at students at three public secondary schools in the country’s Palmerstown North region, ergonomist Stephen Legg measured the heights of chairs and desks and compared them to measurements of students that included sitting height and knee height of 189 children ages 13 through 18.

Legg found a 96 percent mismatch between pupils and the seats they used, with the majority of problems centering around the height of the chairs which were considered too high to allow the children to place their feet on the floor.

Additionally, Legg found that 54 percent of the students needed a deeper seat depth and that while desks and tables used by students enabled students to comfortably put their legs under the desks, overall the work surfaces were too high.

“A surprisingly high proportion of school students report musculoskeletal discomfort and back pain,” Legg was quoted as saying in a Massey University news article. “This is of great concern because the strongest predictor of having future back pain is often considered to be a previous history of such symptoms. This is why it is important to determine contributory risk factors.”

Legg noted that the United Kingdom held a competition last year seeking to find inexpensive, practical school furniture that would work for a larger percentage of students. While Legg admits that adjustable furniture would be the most effective, often it is cost-prohibitive.