Ergonomics done right.®
May 23rd, 2014

Lab Webinar Q&A

Thank you to those of you who attended this week’s live webinar, “Improving Ergonomics in the Laboratory”. We received a lot of great questions during the event and our responses are posted below. Please comment if you’d like to share any lab improvements that you’ve found especially effective.

Q: I see a lot of Capisco chairs in the lab.  What do you think about those?

A: The Capisco chair provides flexibility for seated postures.  It can be used as a standard chair, but because of the back support design can also be used turned sideways.   The unique aspect of this chair is that the user can use it front facing, so the back support is now up against the user’s abdomen and chest.  This helps support the weight of the abdomen and head while conducting precision-type tasks.  It is a decent product that has the benefits as described above. Many people like it, but a trial should be conducted with your users prior to purchasing them in bulk.

Q: Do you ever see microscopes connected to computer monitors to avoid neck strain?

A: Absolutely. If your microscope has the capability to be connected to an external monitor, you can view information more easily and even potentially more clearly on a larger output.  This is similar to connecting a small laptop to an external monitor to view information.  Ensure the monitor height is at or just below eye level, to reduce awkward neck postures.  And keep the microscope within arm’s reach, to be able to adjust/change slides as needed.

Q: What about Morency rests for scopes?

Padded forearm rests, such as those made by Morency, can be helpful.  As with any rest, it is important to remember that it should only be used while resting.  Prolonged contact with any surface can reduce circulation and should be avoided.  Use of these may also require lowering the work surface slightly to avoid awkward shoulder shrugging postures.

Q: Is there somewhere I can go to find a list of ergonomic requirements?

Our e-book, Five Ways to Improve Ergonomics in the Laboratory and our Handbook of Ergonomic Design Guidelines provide useful information.  You may also check out OSHA’s fact sheet on laboratory ergonomics, available on their website.

Q: What is a best practice for metal polishing for metallography?

A: A jeweler’s lathe, or other mechanical device, may be helpful in reducing the pinch gripping and awkward hand/wrist postures associated with metal polishing.

Q: Do touch screens change the angle? I prefer the key and screen be next to each other for typing and screen ease of view.­

If using a touch screen while standing, the top of the touchscreen should be adjustable between 47” and 71”, or fixed at 59” above the standing surface.  It is important to always keep the keyboard and monitor inline to reduce awkward neck and back twisting.

Q: What is the brand name of that computer and monitor arm shown for the work bench?­

A: It is the Ergotron Workfit LX system that has height adjustable keyboard and monitor arm that are independent promoting more flexibility for individual users.

Q: What about handling large laboratory animals from one place to another – goats, pigs, etc.  Are there any restraints or devices to move them safely without undue exertion by the handler?­

A: There are several products on the market that are helpful with large-animal handling.  A good practice is to sedate the animal on a field stretcher (picture a blanket with handles around the border), so that you have a handle with which to maneuver the animal.  Also investigate animal stretchers—there are many which have wheels that make them easy to use, but enable to you loosely restrain the animal during transport.  One of the best solutions I’ve seen is a wagon with removable sides, affectionately called the “Ewe Haul”, which was used to transport sedated sheep.

 (From Webinar attendee) Here is an example of new technology in microscopes:­

Q: What options are available for labs in which mats cannot be used?­

A: The two best options are insoles for the shoes or wearable anti-fatigue matting that would be covered by the typical lab foot protection.