sidebar menu toggle button Laboratory Ergonomics

Work Tasks Performed in Labs

Microscopy Risk Factors

  • Awkward and static posture of the lower back
  • Wrist and palm contact pressure in the carpal tunnel area
  • High repetition
  • Eye strain and fatigue
  • Awkward and static posture of the neck and head

Which one are you?

posture image

How Do We Reduce The Risks?

Sit properly image

  • Use a fully adjustable ergo-task chair or stool with built-in solid foot rest. Adjust the chair to fit you properly.
  • For prolonged standing alternate between feet, wear low-heeled shoes with good cushioning or use anti-fatigue floor mats.
  • Pull the microscope to the front edge of the work surface for upright posture and elevate if needed. Sit close to the microscope
  • Use a fully adjustable ergo-task chair or stool with built-in solid foot rest. Adjust the chair to fit you properly.
  • Adjust the eyepieces and angle of observation to prevent neck strain.
  • Use adjustable microscope stands. Provide armrests to support forearms during knob adjustments.
  • Do not rest forearms on the edge of workstation; use padding
  • Every 30-60 minutes get up to stretch and move.
  • Don’t use a microscope for more than 5-hours a day.
  • Maintain straight wrists and keep elbows close to the body.
  • Ensure that sufficient knee and leg space is available.
  • Take short breaks. Every 15 minutes, close the eyes or focus on something in the distance.

Proper Microscopy Position

  • Sitting properly will save your back, your neck and your arms.
  • Remember to take breaks!


Pipetting image

  • Use anti-fatigue floor mats if standing for long periods
  • Hold pipetter with a relaxed grip
  • Use minimal pressure while pipetting
  • Sit supported against the back rest of your chair
  • Sit or stand close to your work at Bench cutouts.

Tips For Pipetting

  • Adjust you chair to work height rather than jutting out your chin or bending you deck down when working.
  • Elevate your chair rather than reaching up to pipette.
  • Alternate or use both hands to pipette
  • Do not twist or rotate your wrist while pipetting.
  • Use light force or two hands to change tips.
  • Use profile tubes, solution containers and waste receptacles
  • Select a light weight pipetter, properly sized for your hand.
  • Use latch-mode or electronic pipetters for repetitive pipetting
  • Take a 1-2 minute break every twenty minutes of pipetting.
  • Avoid leaning on hard edges

Lab Hoods

  • Remove unnecessary supplies from work area.
  • Position materials in hood as close as possible to avoid extended reaching.
  • Perform work at least 6 ” back into the hood for safety reasons.
  • Place equipment on approved elevated turntables for easy retrieval
  • Use diffused lighting to limit glare
  • Use a fully adjustable ergo-task chair or stool.
  • Apply foam padding to the front edge of the hood to reduce contact forces with the forearm and wrists
  • Take short breaks to stretch muscles and relieve forearm and wrist pressure.
  • Use an anti-fatigue mat if you will be standing for long periods of time while working in the hood.
  • Make sure the lights in hoods are working properly.
  • Use proper sitting posture and positioning.
  • Use ergonomically designed footrest if you will be working for long periods.

Lab Work Benches

Lab workbenches are at fixed heights and have been designed using general guidelines suggested by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These guidelines are as follows:

  • Precision WorkWorkbench height should be above elbow height
  • Light WorkWorkbench height should be just below elbow height
  • Heavy WorkWorkbench should be 4-6 inches below elbow height

Preventive Measures

  • Use a fully adjustable ergo-task chair or stool.
  • Use anti-fatigue mats if you will be standing for long periods of time.
  • Remove drawers, supplies and other materials underneath workbenches to provide leg room.
  • Use an ergonomically designed footrest if your feet do not rest comfortably on the floor.

Overhead Lifting

  • Use a footstool or stepladder to reach objects that are stored on shelves.  Avoid asymmetric lifting (twisting)
  • The object to be lifted should be directly in front of the worker
  • Store materials that are frequently used on shelving units no higher than shoulder height