There are many laws and guidelines in the field of working conditions
In the Netherlands we have Health and Safety Laws (ARBO) and NEN and EU standards for furniture.
Health and Safety Laws (ARBO)
The Working Conditions Act (half cupboard shelf) describes in detail what standards workplaces must meet.
The problem with health and safety legislation is that it comes from mining laws, where productivity is always paramount.
Almost all rules state "unless this cannot reasonably be required", although there is a lot in the latest versions about sanctions and official orders.
For example, everyone is entitled to a workplace with a window, unless there is none.
It unfortunately is a good example of bureaucracy.
The NEN standards are slightly more specific with regard to the rules, although it could be much better.
- For example, the standards for desks specify in detail what the dimensions should be, but not that the edge should be rounded.
- The sharp edge of modern desks is the cause of many complaints that are (wrongly) called RSI complaints.
- The standards for office chairs include the dimensions and adjustment options, but not how the controls work.
- Each chair has its own controls and there very few people who knows how they work.
- There is also little attention to individual differences, a gas spring for height adjustment that works well for someone of 50 kg will fall short for a user of 200 kg.
- It is also not possible to make a chair that is suitable for both short and very tall people.
- At fixed workplaces it is highly recommended to find a suitable chair for an employee with a somewhat different physique.
I do not say that the ARBO laws and standards should be ignored, but they could be better.
The Working Conditions Acts do not give the impression that the welfare and safety of employees is paramount.
The texts seem to have been written entirely by bureaucrats and lawyers, with a strong emphasis on enforcement and sanctions.
What is missing is a clear description of the desired working conditions, the knowledge about this seems to be lacking.
The NEN and European standards seem to have been written almost entirely by the manufacturers.
It says quite a lot about the sizes and adjustability, but not about the operation of these adjustments.
In practice, it turns out to be difficult to adjust desks in height without everything falling off, and office chairs do not have trades at fixed places.
That the edges of the tops should be rounded is nowhere to be found.
That can only be explained by the materials used by modern desks, the popular all-round sheets are so hard that they are virtually impossible to process.