By Castellucci, H.I.; Arezes, P.M.; Viviani, C.A.
Children spend about five hours per day sitting down while doing their school work. Considering this as well as the potential inadequate use of school furniture, it is likely that some anatomical–functional changes and problems in the learning process may occur. The aim of this study was to compare furniture sizes within three different schools with the anthropometric characteristics of Chilean students in the Valparaíso region, in order to evaluate the potential mismatch between them. The sample consisted of 195 volunteer students (94 male, 101 female) of the 8th grade, ranging from 12.5 to 14.5 years of age from 3 different schools. Regarding the methodology, 6 anthropometric measures (Stature, Popliteal height, Buttock-popliteal length, Elbow height while sitting, Hip width, Thigh thickness and Subscapular height) were gathered, as well as 8 dimensions from the school furniture. For the evaluation of classroom furniture a match criterion equation was defined. After considering the existing classroom furniture dimensions in each match criterion equation, the anthropometric characteristics of the considered population were compared in order to determine the mismatch between them. Results indicated that seat height, which should be considered as the starting point for the design of classroom furniture, was appropriate for students’ popliteal height in only 14% of the 2 out of the 3 schools, and 28% in the third. Seat to desk height was too high and mismatched 99% of the students in one school and 100% in the others. Therefore, it was possible to conclude that the classroom’s furniture was inadequate in almost all the analyzed cases and subjects. It is possible that the high mismatch percentage found between furniture and students’ anthropometry can be associated to the fact that the acquisition and selection of the furniture was made without any ergonomic concern or criteria.