BOOK REVIEW: Posture: Sitting, Standing, Chair Design & Exercise by Dennis Zacharkow, PT; Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, 2600 South First St., Springfield, IL 62794-9265; 1988
Numerous professions stand to gain from this work, including those in risk management, safety, medicine, office management, long-term care, office equipment design, purchasing, engineering, rehabilitation and education.
Researchers will be encouraged by the magnitude of referenced sources, which will amply assist those delving into allied issues. Further, the book is well-segmented and covered by a detailed table of contents.
This book gives powerful credibility and recognition to little known works and authors as far back as the late 1800s. The illustrations–a treasure in themselves–and discussion clearly point to the authors as harbingers of seating ergonomics today. Some works of these individuals apparently have been either overlooked or ignored for at least 80 years.
Intrinsic to the subject, “posture,” are those related factors: its effects on the lumbar, thoracic and cervical areas of the spine; exercise effects; changes in posture during pregnancy; wheelchair seating; work station layout; fatigue factors and productivity; exercise and its benefits; alternative chair designs; split key boards, and so on. All are well detailed.
It’s a delight to discover down-to-earth, basic solutions to workplace postural problems. The author devoted a significant amount of space to build a case for proper postures, so you’ll have to read a goodly amount to isolate the “gems” of information. Yet, the very detail that some may say is too voluminous will prove to be an advantage in analyzing both the basics and complexities of workplace challenges. Also, this reference will likely be of value when one is required to quote an authorized source to help justify equipment changes.
Those considering capital expenditures on ergonomic seating improvements would do well to study this book. Clear guidance exists on what to look for and what to avoid in seating hardware. Further, the book segment, “The Average Man Fallacy,” distinctly affirms the need for adjustable ergonomic seating support.
One distraction in this fine publication appears in the first chapter. It has to do with postural problems being linked with the evolution of man. Is the premise valid? Apparently not. Scientifically, evolution of any species cannot be proven. In fact, physical evidence actually points to the creation of a well-designed man, rather than evolution of beings. Beyond this concept, our known postural difficulties are well covered by the author, as he cited poor equipment designs and habits as key–and in both, we’ve “done it to ourselves.”
As our nation and the world becomes more sophisticated in its industrializing process, static postures are more an issue today than five or ten years ago. The tendency is toward prolonged standing or sitting while monitoring CRTs and automated systems, inputting data at terminals, word processing and performing other low physical demand activities.
Hence, mandates for improved postural care will become more obvious as employers strive to lessen cumulative trauma and fatigue, increase productivity and sharpen mental alertness of their workers. Considering these factors, this book may be eventually hailed as a milestone in fostering advancement of a “user friendly” computer age.
Reprinted with Permission, © 1991, American Society of Safety Engineers, Professional Safety