The anthropometric match between high school learners of the Cape Metropole area, Western Cape, South Africa and their computer workstation at school.Appl Ergon. 2013 May; 44(3):366-71.AE
The objective of this study was to present anthropometric data from high school students in Cape Metropole area, Western Cape, South Africa that are relevant for chair design and whether the dimensions of computer laboratory chairs currently used in high schools match linear anthropometrics of high-school students. Summary of Background Data. Learner-chair mismatch is proposed as a cause of poor postural alignment and spinal pain in adolescents. A learner-chair mismatch is defined as the incompatibility between the dimensions of a chair and the anthropometric dimensions of the learner. Currently, there is no published research to ascertain whether the furniture dimensions in school computer laboratories match the anthropometrics of the students. This may contribute to the high prevalence of adolescent spinal pain.
The sample consisted of 689 learners, 13-18 years old. The following body dimensions were measured: stature, popliteal height, buttock-to-popliteal length and hip width. These measurements were matched with the corresponding chair seat dimensions: height, depth and width. Popliteal and seat height mismatch was defined when the seat height is either >95% or <88% of the popliteal height. Buttock-popliteal length and seat depth mismatch was defined when the seat depth is either >95% or <80% of the buttock-popliteal length. Seat width mismatch is defined where the seat width should be at least 10% and at the most 30% larger than hip width.
An 89% of learners did not match the seat. Five percent of learners matched the chair depth, the majority was found to be too big. In contrast, 65% of the learners matched the chair width dimension.
A substantial mismatch was found. The school chairs failed standard ergonomics recommendations for the design of furniture to fit the user. This study supports the conclusion that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. There is an urgent need for chairs that are of different sizes or that are adjustable.