LCS Constructors understands the needs of lab workers, both from a functional design standpoint and from an ergonomic standpoint. We can help you design a lab that fits your needs for production as well one designed for employee health. In any given lab, there are a number of hazards that can affect the health and wellbeing of its users. Here are several common sources of physical strain and some suggestions for improvement that can easily be implemented in your facility:
The design of fume hoods, particularly older models, requires that lab workers perform tasks in awkward positions. Reaching for materials inside the fume hood can cause back strain and undue pressure on wrists and knees. Further, frequent overreaching can cause strain on the shoulders and neck, making for an incredibly uncomfortable work experience. The workspace in and around fume hoods is often narrow or constrained, preventing you from achieving a comfortable seated position.
What you can do:
- Place all materials as close to you as possible to prevent overreaching. Remember, ideal airflow containment requires that you work at least six inches inside the hood.
- An adjustable chair with arm rests may help prevent fatigue in your shoulders and low back.
- If the base of the workstation is sharp or causes undue pressure on your legs, wrists, or forearms, simple foam padding can alleviate the strain and prevent bruising or further aggravation.
- Take short breaks whenever possible to prevent stiffness due to limited legroom and repetitive motion strain.
Working at microscope stations poses similar hazards to sitting at a desk for hours at a time. Many stations are not adjustable and cannot be altered for people of different heights. Often they are too short to comfortably stand at and may result in poor posture, hunching, and back strain. The position of the microscope eyepiece may also lead to neck strain as the individual is stationary for an extended time.
What you can do:
- Keep your elbows by your side whenever possible to reduce shoulder, wrist, and neck strain.
- Use an adjustable chair with adequate back support to obtain an optimal position in front of the microscope.
- Move the microscope as close to you as possible to ensure good posture as you work. The more relaxed of a position you can achieve, the less strain you’ll experience.
Many lab workbenches are positioned at varying heights based on their intended function. Taller stations are ideal for precision or detail work as they minimize hunching. Lower benches are ideal for working with heavier items. However, many work benches are misused, either out of convenience or necessity.
What you can do:
- Use the right workbench for the task.
- If standing for extended periods, consider using a cushioned mat to prevent strain on your joints and lower back.
- Footrests help reduce muscle fatigue by alternating weight on your legs.
- If sitting at a workbench, be sure to create legroom. If legroom is not available or cannot be created, seek out a different workbench for the task.
LCS Constructors specializes in lab design and understands the importance of proper ergonomics in the workplace. If you believe your workspace is in need of some ergonomic renovations, we’re ready to help. Our team of experts will work with you to develop a solution tailored to the specific needs of your company. Contact us today for more information.