National Ergonomics Month is an opportunity to check our work activities to assess our risk of injury and musculoskeletal disorders. According to OSHA, properly fitting workplace conditions result in higher productivity, fewer injuries, and greater worker satisfaction. Repetitive activities, prolonged exertion of the hands, and heavy lifting all generate concern for ergonomics experts.
In the office, proper back support, seat and knee angle, and seat height contribute to a posture that is ideal for long hours facing the computer. Keeping wrists straight and a viewing distance of 18-24” from the screen also help align us properly to prevent discomfort and possible injury.
In the lab, repetitive motions such as pipetting, operating microtomes, or even regularly working with microscopes can cause strain. Awkward positions while using biosafety cabinets or lab hoods can also induce muscular stress. To mitigate laboratory ergonomic risks, consider posture, arm and hand position, and flexibility of movement. The OSHA Fact Sheet for Laboratory Safety Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders details all the specific precautions to take. Some tools that can help are the Cole-Parmer Autoclavable Ergonomic Pipettors with a lightweight design and soft plunger movement to reduce hand fatigue. Microscope arm rests provide a soft padded surface to support forearms while viewing samples. Use with any size microscope. The ergonomic design of the Mettler Toledo New Classic ML Precision Balance with a brilliant display and intuitive user interface makes it easy to use for basic balancing needs.
In manufacturing or industrial settings, back injuries and slips and falls are added to the list of potential risks. Alleviate strain on feet and legs with anti-fatigue mats for workers who are standing for hours at a time. To complement proper lifting, hand trucks can be used to haul heavy boxes and equipment and may minimize back strain. The Ergonomic Two-Shelf Truck reduces wrist strain while allowing one-handed operation. Industrial work lamps such as the Ergonomic Incandescent Task Lamp with cool-to-the-touch handles allow you to position light where you need it.