Exercise Balls In The Office

I was hoping to get some advice on an issue that has just popped up in our office. We have an Employee Event Committee that just started a new company newsletter that goes out to all of the employees. The newsletter contains puzzles, comics, birthday wishes, employee profiles, motivational quotes and fitness tips. One of the fitness tips is to get rid of your desk chair and substitute it with an exercise ball. If an employee decides to do this, and is injured in any way by sitting (or falling off) on the ball, can the company be held liable for this? Would it be a workman's comp issue? What if a release form was signed by the employee? Would that hold up? We would like to find ways to encourage health and fitness, but should we allow this?


  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • To me it sounds like a bad idea. I've seen workers' comp claims for employees who sat on their regular desk chair wrong and fell off, so my first concern would be people falling off it or going to sit down on it and having it roll out from under them. Also, while there could be some benefit to sitting on an exercise ball to work, I can imagine other problems arising, for instance, if the ball were the wrong height for typing or looking at a computer screen and causing issues with carpal tunnel syndrome or neck problems.

    Personally, I wouldn't allow it.
  • If your company endorses the practice, allows it to occur in your offices, and expects employees to perform work activities while sitting on the balls, a fall in the workplace will be considered a work-related event, i.e., subject to w/c & liability coverage. I would have serious reservations about allowing the practice and might restrict it to employee break areas/times only. I think you might also find extra liability for allowing an alternative (very unsafe) chair in the workplace. I think OSHA might try to eat you alive over it, and one toll-free call by a 'concerned' employee could give them the opportunity.

    best wishes.
  • While I agree wit the other posters regarding WC liability, I have seen actual office chairs that have the ball for the seat in place of a traditional seat. These chairs can be adjusted for height the same as any other chair and they have the back on the chair as well. I believe they even have a base they set in to so they do not roll. CHeck with local office supply places - they should be able to get pricing for you.
  • Another thought I had was that if you did decide to allow this, it might not be a bad idea to have an occupational/physical therapist to do a worksite ergonomic evaluation to make sure there aren't any potential problems with the alignment and setup of workstations that might cause or aggravate injuries such as carpal tunnel. We've had this done a couple of times for employees and it was very valuable information. All of their suggestions, like adjusting the height of the desk chair or making sure the angle the employees' elbows were at when typing on their keyboard were simple, easy fixes and made a huge difference to the employees.

    Understanding from an expert's point of view whether or not sitting on an exercise ball (or even an exercise ball/chair combo) could create potential problems might not be a bad idea if you're seriously considering allowing this.

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