Your Questions, Our PRO Answers:

Stability Balls versus Computer Chairs at the Office

Question: “A staff member has requested to have a stability ball at a workstation in lieu of a chair. I am wondering if you have had any experience with this or what your opinions are on them?”

Our PRO answer:

This is a relatively frequent request from employees and we never recommend the use of stability balls. They are great in a gym or physio clinic, where their use will be controlled and short term. The following is a more comprehensive list of some of the reasons we never recommend stability balls at the office:

  1. A ball does not allow employees to be adjusted to fit their seated stature nor will it allow for adjustments to align with their keyboard or monitor which are integral to complying with the CSA Z412 Office Ergonomic Standard.
  2. If the job requires prolonged sitting, fatigue is always going to be a concern and there are no supporting structures with the ball that will allow for the body to maintain a neutral posture. In fact, the awkward postures often become exaggerated because the pelvis can roll back on the ball creating increased disc pressure along the entire spinal column rather than just the lumbar vertebrae.
  3. There is no adjustable lumbar support (even if you put it in a chair-like ‘holder’), thus there is no support for those compromised lumbar vertebrae which will automatically “flatten” when we sit anyways.
  4. When fatigue does set in, the employee is at the end of the day, sitting on a ball; without the strength of our stabilizers (which have become fatigued), the risk of rolling/falling off becomes a safety concern.

If this issue persists, you may want to conduct an office ergonomic assessment for this individual. We often find the outcome to be successful as the information is delivered by a professional (i.e. an Ergonomist) and any counter arguments the employee may have are addressed at that time. We are then able to provide an alternate, more appropriate, solution for the employee’s concern (one that will coincide with the CSA Standard).

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