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Safety Articles

Article # 10105

Selecting the Proper Foot Rest

Where the feet are has everything to do with how the back and legs feel. People who remain in static positions for extended periods often experience leg swelling and other discomforts. Selecting a proper foot rest can help improve comfort and productivity.

When the feet are not planted firmly on the ground or supported in some other way, circulation may be restricted in the legs and neutral body posture is compromised. A well-designed foot rest provides support to the lower back, increases circulation to the legs and encourages proper posture.

Foot rests are cost-effective tools that modify workstations to achieve comfortable working positions.

Foot rests help reduce the stress placed on the feet, legs, and spine by helping to keep the lower back in proper alignment. They also promote circulation in the legs, especially if they can oscillate to stretch the ankles and calves.

Foot rests are useful in situations where seat adjustments are not possible. They provide a place for the feet to rest, so users can remain in a more neutral, comfortable sitting position.

Foot rests can increase personal comfort and productivity. When a person is sitting comfortably with the feet and back supported, it’s easier to work.

Foot rests will not allow a person to remain seated for an extended time without proper breaks. A short walk helps increase the circulation and reduce fatigue.

Footrests will not prevent improper posture. They are a supplemental control measure to help reduce the effect of working in static positions for extended periods and to encourage proper posture.

In addition to a foot rest you should also consider workstation design, chair design, lighting, glare, keyboard positions and other risk factors that may be present in the work area.

• Check for a height adjustable design that allows up to a five-inch height. A two to five-inch range will comfortably fit 95 percent of the general population.
• Check for an adjustable tilt angle that inclines from 0 to 35 degrees. This should accommodate the majority of the population for maximum comfort.
• Check for a design that can rock back and forth to stretch the calves and ankles, increasing circulation and helping to reduce the discomforts associated with static sifting positions.
• Check for a convenient foot lever that is easy to use and adjusts with a simple touch of the foot.
• Check for a design with a large carpeted surface to cushion feet and minimize fatigue. The foot rest also should be easy to clean.
• Check for a design with a nonskid surface that firmly holds the foot rest in place. The foot rest should also be portable so it can be used in more than one location.
• Check for a design that is large enough to accommodate both feet at once, comfortably. A minimum of 15-inches (38cm) wide and 11-inches (28cm) in length will fit more than 95 percent of the general population.
• Check the manufacturer’s experience, reputation, resources and product line. Make sure they can provide proper training and support with your ergonomics programs.
• Screen angle should be at zero to 15 degrees below the horizontal line to be considered neutral when operating a computer. Use a document holder positioned next to the monitor at eye level to reduce neck aches and eye strain.
• Eyes also can be strained and fatigued by too much glare from computer screens, windows, overhead lights, desk lamps and other glossy surfaces. Choose a glare filter that helps reduce the glare, brightens screen colors and makes the text easier to read.
• Feet should be planted firmly on the floor or on an adjustable foot rest. Feet that are not resting on a surface may strain the back and reduce circulation in the legs and feet. Foot rests that allow for gentle foot movement can stretch the ankles and calves to promote better circulation.
• Posture should be comfortable but not static. Changing posture often may reduce muscle stiffness and soreness associated with static positions.
• Forearms and back should be supported. Many chair models adjust in height, tilt, and tension to achieve maximum comfort. Make sure the seat pan does not cut into the back of the knees.
• Small of the back should be supported by a chair with a built-in support in the lumbar area. Chairs can be modified with a back rest or roil to provide added comfort and support.
• Wrists should be kept parallel to the forearms while operating a computer keyboard. An adjustable, curvilnear-designed wrist rest helps encourage neutral posture, minimizing the strain and pressure in the hands, wrists, and neck and shoulders.
• Swing space should not exceed 18 inches (46cm) in any direction. Keep the items used most often nearby. Items used less frequently may be kept further than in the 18-inch (46cm) swing space.