Ergonomics Simplified

Complete ergonomic tutorial and recommendations based on your specific problem...

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Ergonomics in the Lab


Multichannel pipettes in use Multi-channel pipettes reduce repetition. Look for pipettes that spread the work out between the thumb and index finger.

Begin by adjusting your workstation to keep everything close to you. The arms should stay close to the side with minimal reach forward or up.

Use a pipette that fits comfortably in your hand and don't grip harder than necessary.

The waste container should be in a well or lower position on the desk.

A rubber anti-fatigue mat can decrease the pressure from standing for long periods.

All hard or sharp edges should be padded to minimize pressure where you contact them.

Adjust the chair and setup to fit you each time you use it. The chair should have adjustable seat height, backrest, and armrests. A footrest can help all users to maintain a supported position.

Use a height and angle adjustable keyboard tray for the computer. The Free Ergonomic Evaluation can teach you the principals of how to adjust it to fit you correctly.

Look for these features in pipettes:

  • Require minimal thumb and finger motion and force.
  • Allow the index finger to aspirate and the thumb to dispense to help spread the work between fingers.
  • Have low tip insertion/ejection forces. (Don't need you to pound or hand tighten)
  • Electronic pipettes reduce force and repetition.
  • Have a finger hook allowing user to rest hand more.
  • Use multi-channel pipettes when able to reduce repetition.
  • Allow you to work with a straight wrist, when you bend you have less strength and efficiency and are in risky postures.
  • Cleaned regularly to reduce sticking.

Proper tips should:

  • Fit well and require little force to add or remove.
  • Be short requiring less awkward wrist bending.
  • Moved close to user so there is less reaching.

Build breaks into your day by rotating pipetting with other tasks such as using the computer, run errands, administrative work, etc. Spread out pipette work between employees. Alternate hands to work and take frequent short breaks to stretch and change position every 30 minutes.

Move trays to keep wrists straight.

Microscope use

Raised microscope

If you have to bend over too much (straining your neck) put something under the microscope to raise it.

As there are usually multiple users at the workstation, equipment that adjusts as much as possible allows workers to adjust the chair and workstation each time they use it. The chair should be adjustable and support you well.

All hard edges should be padded so you are never resting against one.

You should be as close to the microscope as possible. You can do this by elevating and angling it toward you to look into it with less bending over. Move it forward toward the edge of the table. Forearms should be supported on armrests while using the controls. Be aware of your posture. Try to keep your back straight, elbows close to the sides, forearms supported, and the head not stretching out or up. A table with a cut-out will let you get closer to the scope while giving an area to rest the forearms. You should be able to get your legs under the work surface. If not use a sit to stand stool. Use systems that have a computer monitor to display instead of the eyepieces whenever possible.

Alternate microscope use with other tasks throughout the day. Every 20 minutes look away to focus on something else for 20 seconds to rest your eyes. Remember to get up an stretch frequently.

Test tubes

Keep items close to you. Lower tubes and waste containers also help

Keep items close to you to minimize neck strain from reach. Lower tubes and waste containers help also.

Arrange test tubes to keep them close and minimize reach or twisting. Try to eliminate holding them by placing them in a mixing rack. Use both hands to open them or a cap remover to minimize pinching. Plastic vials with fewer threads reduce the amount of repetitive work.

The edges of the work surface should be padded.

Change how you hold the forceps and use padding on them to protect your fingers.

Tilt storage bins toward you to reduce wrist bending while reaching for supplies.

Healthy-back stool allows full movement

Healthy-back Stool allows full movement while providing support.


Store heavy items below shoulder height to reduce overhead reaching. A ladder or stepstool helps to reach items on shelves. Rotating carousels help to store items closer to the worker reducing risky reach. Consult with your companies Ergonomics Evaluator to get equipment you may need and to help fine tune your work area. If you would like to be put in contact with one in your area contact us.

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