Bad Office Chairs: Worse Than You Thought


Sure, your job may be killing you slowly, but beware: Your seat may be trying to speed up the process.

About 216,000 office chairs are being recalled after 35 reports of the chair backs or posts breaking, leading to lacerations, muscle strains, contusions and concussions.

The OfficeMax Task Chairs were sold in OfficeMax (Stock Quote: OMX) stores nationwide, online, in catalogs and by direct sales to businesses from September 2003 to July 2008 for between $40 and $65. 

The chairs come in charcoal or dark charcoal, have black plastic arms and a rolling plastic and metal base. The recalled chairs have the model numbers OM182 and OM96614 located under the seat on a white UPC label.

Consumers should immediately stop using the chairs and return them to any OfficeMax store for a full refund or a $55 gift card if you don’t have a receipt. For more information, consumers can contact OfficeMax at (800) 283-7674, or visit

Common Office Chair Pains: What You Can Do

Even if you don't have a recalled seat, just sitting in the average office chair is actually hard on the body, especially your back, according to the National Institutes of Health Division of Occupational Health and Safety. 

To avoid back problems caused by several hours of sitting, the NIH recommends the following:

1. Be a Lumbar Jack

You should sit upright in the chair with the low back against the backrest and the shoulders touching the backrest, the NIH recommends. 

Give your back a chance by adjusting the height of the chair's backrest to support the natural inward curvature of your lower back and by using a lumbar pad (or a rolled towel) to support the low back.

2. Wiggle It Just a Little Bit

The NIH recommends "dynamic sitting" during the day, that's a fancy way of saying don't stay in one position for hours on end, your circulation will thank you.

3. Use, Don't Abuse, the Armrests

Adjust the armrests so they provide light support, but do not use them to slouch. In fact slouching should not be part of your seating plan no matter what, you are at work.

4. Go Ergo

The NIH recommends a five-point base ergonomic chair, with small-cell foam padding, among other amenities. The price for such comfort? Around $250. But a lifetime of chiropractor appointments can run a bit more, so if you are still in a start-up style folding chair (or worse), send your boss or human resources rep to this DOHS link.

Lastly, a tip about tipping: What is funny in the movies can hurt in real life. If you’re concerned about your old office chair breaking, you may want to refrain from adjusting the angle at which your chair reclines (which transfers some of the upper body weight to the backrest on your chair).

MainStreet wants to know: What is the beat on your daily seat? Does your work chair leave you happy or hurting?

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