The fact that the human body comes in so many different sizes and shapes is a major challenge in designing for the human body. A design that is comfortable for one person would perhaps be absolutely uncomfortable for another. Clothes and shoes come in different sizes to accommodate these differences. Similarly, a proper fit is very important when it relates to a product that a person will be physically interacting with for hours at a time, for example, an office chair.

Several organizations have compiled standards for chair designers to adhere to. Some of them are:

  • American National Standards Institute and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society: ANSI/HFES 100-2007
  • Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association: BIFMA G1-2002
  • Canadian General Standards Board: CGSB-44.232-2002
  • Canadian Standards Association: CSA-Z412-2000
  • International Standards Institute: ISO 9241- Part 5

Experts in the fields of human factors and ergonomics, in partnership with the leading manufacturers of chairs and office systems, have compiled these standards. They represent the combined cumulative knowledge of these experts that are aimed at improving the accommodation of people, and reducing the risks of injury in the office environment.

The chair standards are intended as a reference and a starting point for design to meet minimum requirements, in addition to adjustability ranges to increase the percentage of the population accommodated. They provide dimensional specifications based on body dimensions of the 5th percentile (small) female to the 95th percentile (large) male. This range is intended to meet the minimum requirements of users and covers only 95% of the population.