Factory, workshop and Industrial Chairs

To withstand the harsh work environment, industrial chairs have different requirements to normal office chairs.

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If you search “Industrial Chairs South Africa” or “Work Industrial Chairs” in Google, it is highly likely that the results will show various “industrial looking” products for trendy coffee shops and bistros. These are normally 4 legged steel chairs or stools without a seat cushion. Factory or industrial chairs used on production lines and in workshops, have different requirements to normal office chairs. The application of these chairs can range from casual seating in factories, to ergonomic seating used on assembly lines.

bistro chair

This type of 4 legged steel chair used in coffee shops and bistros, is often call an “industrial chair”.

However, there is another application of “industrial chairs” and this is what this article is about.

Because the operating environment for industrial chairs is vastly different to standard office chairs, the actual application becomes extremely important.

delta PU factory & industrial chair
Delta PU
bucket seat industrial chair
Bucket Seat
Idonsa industrial chair made in South Africa
sit-stand inductrial & factory chair
Sit-Stand PU

1. How will the industrial chair be used – the application?

a. Area of application

This is crucial as it determines the type of chair that is required. For example:

    • Is the chair part of the workstation setup like a circuit board assembly? In this case the operator is expected to sit on the chair for most of the day.
    • Will the chair be used in a multi- shift operation? In this instance, you would probably place greater emphasis on the strength of the chair. 

b. Height of work surface

    • What is the height of the working surface?
    • Can the chair height be adjusted so that the operator can perform the work comfortably, or is a footring conversion required?

If a footring is necessary, ensure you select one that is sufficiently rigid for a factory application.

Many footring conversions lack rigidity with the footring being prone to rotate around the centre column. This can lead to an unstable and unsafe seat!

What is the correct height for my work surface and chair?

Idonsa Task with Easy-Grab® Bumper Edge and Footring
Idonsa factory chair with footring
Karo’s NUGEN footring column

Karo’s NUGEN footring is unique!

The NUGEN footring is bolted to a specially-made lower column and cannot come loose and rotate around the gas lifter. This makes the NUGEN the safest and most stable footring available for industrial chairs in South Africa.

The NUGEN footring is also used on our range of casino chairs that are exported around the world.

c. Type of work performed

Does the work involve leaning forward over the work surface? For example, with intricate electronic assembly, you will often see industrial workers sitting on the front edge of the chair and leaning forward while they work. In such a case, a seat that can be adjusted forward to create a negative tilt would be ideal as it reduces the pressure in the lumbar discs, and so reduces lower back pain.  

Factory chairs used for intricate electronics assembly should meet specific ergonomic criteria to ensure the wellbeing of the workers is not compromised.

electronics assembly

d. Is a Sit-Stand applicable?

Sit-Stand Stool with Footring

There are applications in a workshop, laboratory, factory or warehouse, where a conventional chair may not be appropriate. The work may involve constantly getting up and moving to different work stations at different locations. Under these conditions, a Sit-Stand may be a better solution.

2. Where will the work industrial chairs be used?

In certain industrial environments like food processing, it may be important that the work chairs are easy to clean. In such applications, a non-porous vinyl upholstery is better than fabric. Vinyls are easy to wipe clean with a mild detergent. The great thing about vinyl upholstery is that the chair is easy to reupholster should it be torn or worn out. 

In some workshops, you need a more robust chair. Here it would be better to use a factory chair where the seat and back are made from self-skinning polyurethane foam (referred to as PU chairs).

delta PU factory & industrial chair
Delta PU industrial chair

Polyurethane (PU) foam chairs.

PU chairs are very hard wearing and are extremely easy to keep clean. The seat may not be as soft and comfortable as a conventionally upholstered chair.

In food processing and other hygiene intensive environments like those at Unilever, an important consideration is that the factory chairs do not have any “nooks and crannies” in which bacteria can accumulate and grow.  

In an electronic assembly or repair facility, static electricity charges must be avoided to prevent damage to sensitive electronic circuitry. These industrial work chairs are known as Electrostatic Dissipative or Static Control Chairs (ESD chairs)

ESD chairs divert the static charge generated by sitting and discharge it safely through the floor. A special conductive fabric or vinyl upholstery and ESD castors must be used.

ESD castor

3. Factory ergonomics

Factory ergonomics, specifically related to chairs, is important for any person concentrating on executing exacting operations in an industrial or workshop environment. What is an ergonomic chair?

According to Assembly Magazine“ergonomics is paramount for keeping the employee safe, comfortable and productive”.

Research has shown that using the wrong chair, or one that is badly adjusted, can have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of employees. In such cases, the risk of Muscular Skeletal Disease (MSD) increases. Workplace ergonomics is vital.

Failure to include factory ergonomics in the design of work areas, may result in lower productivity, higher absenteeism, higher staff turnover, and therefore higher costs. In other words, not having industrial chairs in your work areas, may cost you more!

4. Economics

PRICE….all too often, this is the only consideration! 

Cost is important and even more so during tough economic times. However, it should never be the only consideration. Selecting the right work industrial chair for your workshop or factory, must take into account the various points listed above. The application of the chair, the working environment and factory ergonomics, must all be considered.

By examining your needs carefully, you will be able to select the most cost-effective industrial chair for your work.

Factory and Industrial Chairs

Chairs for a harsh factory environment need to be robust, safe, durable and easy to clean. Karo’s industrial chair range is designed for this exact application.

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