Ergonomics In The Laboratory

The official definition of ergonomics from the International Ergonomics Association Executive Council is “Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among human and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”

In simpler terms, ergonomics deals with designing and arranging things which people use. The design and arrangement are done so for efficiency and safely.

Ergonomics is an important aspect to consider in a laboratory setting. The researchers and users of a laboratory undergo highly repetitive movements (ex. pipetting) and/or prolonged static postures (ex. Use of microscope). In addition to prolonged poses and repetitive activities, users are also at the risk of frequently lifting and moving things across lab space, to overheads and other storage cabinets.

In this blog, let’s look at OSHA’s recommendation for ergonomic wellness in a laboratory.

Activity Good Practices
Maintaining posture
  • Maintain the three normal curves of the spine as much as possible
  • Use a chair that provides good back support and sit against the back of the chair
  • Use supportive shoes and cushioned mats if required to stand for long periods
  • Shift the weight often when standing to work
  • Sit close to the work area
Arm & Hand Safety
  • Keep the shoulders relaxed and the elbows close to the sides when working
  • Maintain neutral wrist and arm postures when working
  • Select equipment and tools that are the right size for the hands
  • Use thin, flexible gloves that fit properly
  • Hold the pipetter with a relaxed grip. Alternate hands or use both hands to pipette
  • Do not twist or rotate their wrist while pipetting
  • Use electronic pipettes or light touch models whenever possible
  • Elevate chair rather than reaching up to pipette
  • Take a 1 to 2 minutes break after every 20 minutes of pipetting
  • Adjust chair, workbench, or microscope as needed to maintain an upright head position
  • Elevate, tilt or move the microscope close to the edge of the counter to avoid bending their neck
  • Avoid repetitive or forceful twisting and turning motions (e.g., adjusting microscopes)
  • Spread microscope work throughout the day and share it with several people, if possible
  • Take short breaks. Every 15 minutes, close the eyes or focus on something in the distance
Fume Hoods & Biosafety Cabinets
  • Remove unnecessary supplies from the work area
  • Place equipment on approved turntables for easy retrieval
  • Perform all work 6 inches inside the hood
  • Position work supplies in their order of use, with those most frequently used near the front of the hood
  • Use diffused lighting to limit glare
  • Take short breaks to stretch muscles and relieve forearm and wrist pressure
  • Adjust chair/stool to a height that allows the shoulders to relax

Safety & ergonomics. No two factors are more important in the laboratory environment. Kewaunee’s products are specifically built for the laboratories keeping these two principles in mind.

Kewaunee, the global leader in total laboratory solutions, empowers organisations to achieve competitive advantage through safe, efficient, and contemporary laboratories. In existence since 1906, Kewaunee powers the laboratories for over 5,000 customers in more than 100 countries.

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