Sit/Stand/Walk Workstations: Help for Sedentary Employees

Special Topics in Safety Management
by ckilbourne

Getting off their chairs while they work might help employees improve overall health, according to some experts. Some new technology in workstation design comes to the rescue.

Steelcase, a leading manufacturer of office furniture, has developed new workstation designs that allow employees to sit, stand, and even walk while they work.

For example, one of Steelcase’s sit/stand desks, known as Airtouch, permits the worktable to "float" from a seated to standing position with the simple release of a lever. Equipment on the table moves with the user.

The company also makes electric height-adjustable tables, which are recommended when the objects on the work surface are heavier. 


Then, there’s the Walkstation, which allows employees to walk while they work. Introduced by Steelcase about 5 years ago, the innovation was based on the work of Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. James Levine (see yesterday’s Advisor). His studies showed that walking just 5 minutes every hour for 6 hours a day burns more calories than going for a 30-minute run.

The device incorporates a height-adjustable table and treadmill into a workstation. The Walkstation goes at no more than 2 miles an hour, and the user can adjust the speed.

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"You can do any regular computer functions like typing, mousing, sending e-mail, or word processing," says Jody Hanson, general manager of Steelcase’s Details Division. "I even create PowerPoint® presentations while walking."

People use the Walkstation in different ways, with many walking about four to six times per day for a half hour each time. "You have to build up just as you would with other kinds of walking," says Hanson.

Those who need to talk on the phone while they work can use a wireless headset with sit/stand/walk workstations.

Steelcase says the equipment is quiet and safe. Walkstations are engineered with soft edges on the desktop in case a user come up against them while walking. They also feature a safety clip—much like a traditional treadmill—that is worn by the user. If the clip is dislodged, the machine will stop.


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