Health and safety proof: What requirements must office chairs meet?

4 March 2022

Health and safety proof: What requirements must office chairs meet?

In recent times, Dutch people have started to work from home more and more. This is one of the reasons why it is important to design home workplaces in a health and safety-proof way. What requirements should a (home office) desk chair actually meet?

The Working Conditions Act (Arbowet) describes that the employer must ensure that an employee can work safely and responsibly. The Working Conditions Decree (Arbobesluit) states (Article 5.1): The work chair must be stable, the seat must be adjustable in height and there must be a backrest with an adjustable height and angle of inclination. The user should experience freedom of movement and be able to adopt a comfortable working position. What does this mean exactly? Translated with (free version)

NEN-EN 1335

In order to be able to guarantee the quality, the European Ergonomics Standard is used (NEN-EN 1335). This is a European standard that has existed since the year 2000. This standard states that chairs should not have sharp corners or edges. This standard also states that the wheels must be antistatic and adapted to the surface. Further specific standards are outlined below;

Seat Height: Adjustable from 40 to 51 cm.
Seat depth: Depth adjustable from 40 to 44 cm. Inclination angle adjustable from -2 to -7 degrees.
Seat surface: at least 40 cm wide.

Back rest: minimum 36 cm wide and 40 cm long.
Backrest inclination: 15 degrees.
Lumbar Support: Must be adjustable in height. Center of support at least adjustable between 17 and 22 cm above seat surface.

Armrests: at least 4 cm wide and 20 cm long. Adjustable height from 20-25cm.
Armrest distance: adjustable between 46-51 cm.

Distance from front of armrest to front of seat surface: at least 20 to 24 cm.

NPR 1813

In the Netherlands, there is a lot of length difference between individuals. Therefore, an additional guideline, the Dutch Practice Guideline (NPR 1813), has been lined up. This is an addition to the NEN-EN-1335. This guideline states that a chair should have 4D armrests. An adjustable seat depth of at least 38 and 48 is also a requirement.

Guidelines for properly setting up a workstation can be found here. Our advice is that if an employee also works from home, to keep the NPR 1813 as a guide. In addition, this standard is also recommended if you have employees who perform sedentary work 4 or 5 days a week.

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