Understanding castors and glides

chair mats
Understanding castors and glides

When you are buying an office chair, start by thinking about your working environment. An important consideration is the workplace flooring type.

It is easy and common, to end up with a runaway wheeled chair or one which refuses to move when you wish it to. Both scenarios have their draw backs and both are potentially equally dangerous to the user and those around them.

Hard shiny floors and wheeled chairs may provide a level of entertainment for colleagues and if you have every experienced your chair either disappearing from beneath you, or hurtling backwards until it hits something solid will know the potential for injury, including whiplash.

Just as problematic is attempting to manoeuvre a chair on flooring that will not allow this.

There exists some quite basic health and safety at work issues here and a requirement under Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment legislation.

Why is seating at work important?

Unsuitable and unstable seating can cause you to sit awkwardly and inconsistently, which can lead to discomfort, back pain and upper limb disorders. This may prove costly to employers in the form of staff absences, potential civil claims and lost production.

In the main, employers are required to provide seating for an employee that is suitable and safe. It should meet the needs of the individual, and the requirements of the task.

This is where understanding castors and gliders come in, as a quick, efficient, compliant and non-costly option.

So what is the difference?


Castors are basically small wheels on the end of your office chair. Different working environments may well require different types of castors. They will fall broadly into 3 categories:

  1. Brake loaded; these castors lock when you put your weight on the chair and remain static until you get up.
  2. Partially break loaded castors will lock the chair when you sit on it and makes the sitting down processes less hazardous.
  3. Freewheeling castors are common in offices and they remain mobile whether weight is applied or not.


Gliders are flat disc like structures fitted to the bottom of chairs to avoid them moving on various floor surfaces. They are used mostly when movement of the chair by the occupant is not required.

Chair mats explained

What a great invention. Investing in a chair mat means that your existing, possibly slippery floor surface can remain and employees’ safety assured with the use of this very clever non-slip chair mat.

Use of the mat ensures the reduction of slip hazard whatever type of chair you have and is especially convenient and helpful for colleagues who may have a disability and need to mount, or leave a chair in a variety of fashions.

It is important for you to check that the chair mat itself is not likely to slip on a hard shiny surface and that the chair will not be held stubbornly when you wish for it to move. It is equally important to consider the likelihood of the mat proving to be a trip hazard. You may avoid this by choosing contrasting colours.

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Author: John