Advice on desk chairs for work please

Hi, I am in the process of being diagnosed with RA. I am a science teacher in a secondary school and am finding work extremely hard at the moment due to pain and fatigue. My employers are being very supportive and trying to put things in place to help me. One of the issues I have is that I am sitting at a science bench during the day. They have asked me to look into a type of stool/chair that would be appropriate to use at a science bench that would help with my shoulder, hip and back pain but I don't know where to start and obviously I want to get it right if they are willing to buy one for me. Can anyone recommend a good ergonomic chair that has adjustable height? The other issue is I am only 5'1" so my feet don't reach the floor when I sit at the science bench which causes more pain in my back and legs. Thanks in advance for any suggestions x

19 Replies

  • Hi,  why don't you ask your occupational therapist to come and take a look at your work station and make some recommendations, probably the best place to start and see what they come up with. 

    Hope this is of help.

    Val, NRAS

  • I had a work place assessment and someone came, from an outside organisation I think, and made all sorts of helpful suggestions including getting me a very comfortable chair which had so many possibilities for adjustment that I could sit in it, without back ache, for a considerable length of time.

     Is there an occupational health department/ advisor you could contact?

  • Apply to Access To Work and they will do a full assessment and recommend the appropriate equipment.


  • Yes, I did that and was given a superb chair as well as a more ergonomic artist's easel, and other smaller AIDS.  Very helpful, both practically and financially.

  • Can you share info n ergonomic easels please?

  • I'll look out the paperwork later today, Cathie, but I'm not sure that would help. It's very much horses for courses.  It's not publicised as ergonomic, but is what the Ergonomitrist decided would suit me.   She actually wanted to give me an electrically operated one, but a) it was very expensive ( even though I didn't pay) b) I had visions of my tripping over the cable c) it would give me a lot less flexibility.    So, I went for one with a very easy ratchet system, unlike the ancient one I had ( 19th century)  which was very difficult with my wrists as they then were.  To be honest, I think it would be OK now.   You need to be careful that you have the clearance for the support when it's fully extended.  Mine is only just OK. Sadly, I don't have a large airy studio. It was a Mabf. J x

  • Thanks. I need to get going on drawing and I'm hoping wee walks with a sketchbook will help

  • That was the organisation I used but not sure if it's only for new staff?

  • Thank you for all your suggestion. I am still waiting for my appointment with the rheumatologist which is taking ages. All I am getting from the GP at the moment is paracetamol and ibuprofen. I do have some tramadol for something else but that doesn't seem to help with RA joint pains for some reason??? Guess I can't access some of the support people you have mentioned until I have seen the rheumatologist. Feel very much in limbo land, trying to manage the pain so I can carry on as normal but not getting enough support/advice from the medical profession to do this in the meantime.

  • I'm pleased that work are taking your needs seriously. There are a plethora of seat options, you should find one suitable but one thing I found invaluable, even though my feet reached the ground, was an adjustable foot rest similar to this

    I needed to adjust the height of my chair to accommodate the foot rest but I found changing the angle & the height of the foot rest periodically helped when sitting for any length of time.

  • You may find that RA brings fatigue which might involve adjusting working hours. If your employers are prepared I'd feed them as much info as possible

  • It's great work are being helpful.. I work for NHS and have never had the level of support you have. Totally agree about getting a workplace assessment. You can get Access TO Work assessment even if you don't have a diagnosis so would start the ball rolling asap

  • Thanks for your posts they have been very helpful xx

  • Hi Katt. I had an Access to Work assessment when I first started working with my current employer. If this isn't available, maybe your occupational health department could do a workstation assessment or arrange one to be done. We have had the assessments carried out by They are based in Wales so in not sure if logistically speaking they would be suitable. I have a RH Logic 400 chair. They may be slightly expensive but I have had mine for 8 years and therefore think it is good value for money considering the use it has. Hope you get something suitable soon 😊

    Fiona x

  • I do know H&S regs were brought in several years back regarding desk and chair heights, it was relevant to typists/secretaries at the time! 

    Would something like a typists chair, which would swivel and have a lever to raise lower seat height, be of any use?  

    Take height measurement from floor to top of your science bench with you, visit one of the office supplies companies, sit and have a play. Better still, if you know some one who'd make up a t shape in wood for you,  then you ask the sales assistant in the office supplies place to hold it on floor, while you experiment. I'm assuming in a science lab the same thing re legs dangling would apply, a footstool to support under the workbench perhaps? Food for thought! 

    PS of course I've just seen the other replies having written mine at top under your post! Several good suggestions all there on same lines. 

  • Katt,  takes a while  to get my Brain fully into gear :-)  I googled chairs for school lab benches - the search led to a site called chairs for work, sorry the tab has disappeared but if you do same you should locate it. Again it's the swivel typist type chair, the back is made so it supports you also from look of it! 

     listed on website as laboratory chairs in list down LHS. Not that expensive either, £70-80+. Hope you find something. 

  • Work place chair for computer desk assessment is very different to science desk environment.

    Do you work in the same environment very time?

    A stool or a high chair modified to you height may help you. As your employer is very supportive, you need to fine a carpenter who can make a chair for your height and a foot rest.

    Please do not go for a computer desk chair as your environment is different.

  • Also get a access to work assessment they will be thorough in advising what you need . Also speak to HR and ask for Occupational health referral who will also help assess what will help support u. 

  • Agree that you should ask to see an OT for advice.  It is important to get the right seating for you personally.

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