It’s common knowledge today that sitting all day is bad for your health. Researchers have found that the negative impact of excessive sitting can even outweigh the benefit we get from exercise. Many of us have seen the long list of negative health effects of sitting at work.
But what about all those security control room operators, perpetually vigilant, and perpetually tied to their stations? New sit-stand workstations are providing a solution, and the new stations are more popular than ever. A sit-stand workstation can move from a sitting position to a standing position, and the keyboard and mouse might move independently of the monitor.
Sit-stand workstation trend taking off quickly
“Cities, states and counties are all dictating that this is what you have to have in your control room,” says Randy Smith, President of Winsted Corp., a manufacturer of control room furnishings. “It’s been proven that sitting all day is bad for you, bad for your posture, your digestion, your bone structure, everything else. Standing all day also has negative effects, but a combination of both is ideal.”
“I have been surprised by how quickly the sit-stand trend is taking off,” says Smith. “It’s not just like we’re selling a few. It’s skyrocketing.”
Quality over cost
Adapting to the need for sit-stand equipment has evolved more quickly in the consumer market for business furniture than in equipment specific to control rooms. However, the 24/7 nature of the control room environment requires higher quality, more durable equipment than might be offered by a business furniture manufacturer. Customers who try to save costs by buying the consumer-grade equipment will likely be disappointed over time, says Smith.
“We build products to sustain the 24/7 environment, 365 days a year, and to last in that environment,” says Smith. “It has to be sturdy and strong so it will last. Because there are a lot of office supply people coming out with a sit-stand product, we run into customers who want to outfit their control room with essentially low-cost consumer furniture. But we say: You’re sitting there doing a security application maybe at a power plant that has to be manned 365 days a year, and you want an actuator that’s going to last going up and down, and laminates and bumpered edges that are going to last.”
The 24/7 nature of the control room environment requires higher quality, more durable equipment than might be offered by a business furniture manufacturer
The control room environment requires sit-stand equipment that can work repeatedly over a long period of time. Smith says: “It was challenging during development to find the right actuator (the leg that goes up and down), and we cycled and tested them over and over with monitors, including monitors that are cantilevered, which means all the weight is in the back, which is a whole other challenge. It was a lot of testing to find the right leg that would stand up.”
Ergonomics are another big issue in control room furniture. Ergonomics of control rooms are covered by the ISO 11064 standard, which specifies ergonomic principles, recommendations and requirements to be applied in the design of control centres, as well as to the expansion, refurbishment and technological upgrades of control centres. Ergonomic principles relate to multiple variables, including the angle at which a monitor is viewed.
Making an ergonomic product claim is a broad statement, while the ISO 11064 standard is very specific. “If you put an ergonomic label on your product, that doesn’t mean it meets the ISO 11064 standard. It’s not the same thing; there is a standard for it,” says Smith.
“We have to educate,” he says. “People know they want something to be ergonomically correct, but what does that actually mean at the end of the day? So we educate them about line-of-sight and other ergonomics.”
Technology changes are also impacting the types of control room furniture being used in the market, and Smith and others from Winsted will be watching closely at ISC West to see how technology might be changing in a way that will impact control room design. Examples include touch screens, which are becoming more popular, and larger sizes of monitors. To accommodate touch screens, Winsted mounts them on adjustable, articulating arms, but the arms have to lock into place so that the user doesn’t push them back when they touch the screen. “We have done some, and more are coming,” says Smith.