If you work with pipettes and other lab equipment, you've most likely discussed proper techniques in terms of practicing laboratory ergonomics. A lot of ergonomic advice begins to sound the same; Keep your instruments close so you aren't overextending your arms, make sure you are working in a neutral position, and try not to bend and crane your neck while looking down for hours on end. But what about actual stretching advice to effectively help with longevity to last throughout your work day?
It's a good pipetting practice to get up from the lab bench every 20 or 30 minutes. Try to do all or part of this stretching routine several times throughout the day.
While we tend to think of an ergonomics keyboard or a standing desk when it comes to improving working conditions, ergonomic practices apply to many facets of our lab workspaces as well. This free poster will serve as a reminder for everyone in your lab to get up and stretch!
Tip: Gently pull your elbow across your chest toward your opposite shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Do this for both shoulders a couple times.
Take your eyes off your projects for a moment and focus on your health! Order your free poster from Rainin featuring easy to remember ergonomic stretches.
Learn more about Rainin pipettes, all of which are created with ergonomics in mind, and all of the other high quality products we supply that help people working in labs around the world to discover new advances in science.
Case Study: How One Company Relieved Stress and Strain on Its Employees
Julia (not her real name) is a research associate at Immunex Corp. in Seattle, WA. An athletic individual in her mid-20s, Julia was running up to 25 miles a week, lifting weights, and doing aerobic workouts almost daily.
Suddenly, she began to experience a constant ache in her right wrist and at the base of her thumb. Her wrist became so sore and painful she had difficulty performing daily tasks such as brushing her teeth and combing her hair. In time, her pain became so severe that she could not operate a pipettor with her right hand.
To perform her work in the laboratory, Julia switched to using her left hand. In a matter of weeks, her left wrist and thumb became painful, and she realized the condition was likely related to her work. Julia’s physician diagnosed the ailment as DeQuervain’s tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendons that extend the thumb.
Julia had worked in laboratories for five years, the last two in an analytical chemistry and formulation laboratory. She had recently begun a new procedure that required prolonged periods of pipetting.
By definition, many laboratory tasks are repetitive, therefore, good ergonomic practices are especially important in the laboratory setting. All too often, repetitive tasks are performed by researchers in awkward postures and less-than-ideal positions. The application of ergonomic principles and low-cost changes to equipment can reduce RSI injuries and the costs associated with claims.
The risk factors observed in laboratories were
- Contact stress
- Static loading
Using the most common risk factors, we developed an evaluation checklist specific to the laboratory environment. The checklist is a standardized method of evaluating an employee in a variety of work settings such as at the microscope, biological safety cabinet, fume hood, computer terminal, and other instruments and pieces of equipment. The risk factors for each setting were then evaluated and addressed in a consistent manner.
For more information on this case study and how to address risk factors for RSI and cumulative trauma disorders, download the case study on relieving RSI in the lab.
To download the case study, CLICK HERE.