LABTAG|BLOG

LABTAG|BLOG

Home Laboratory Automation How to Avoid Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Lab

How to Avoid Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Lab

Adjust your posture and working position – Posture is important to avoid pulling your body in unnatural ways, which can put a strain on muscles and connective tissues.  Maintaining proper posture can be accomplished by:

  • Keeping a clean bench and organizing your consumables prior to working. This will prevent you from constantly stretching to reach tubes and tip boxes.
  • Make sure your tip disposal jar is as low as possible. If the jar is too high, reaching up then pressing down on the pipette will put unwanted stress on your wrist.
  • Find an ergonomic seat and keep your back in an upright position. You should probably do this at home too.
  • Use padding, if needed, that you can rest your arms on.
  • Keep your wrist in a neutral or straight position when pipetting, without twisting or rotating it. Avoid twisting your arms and wrists for all procedures, and set your elbows close to your sides, which maintains your shoulders in a sturdy, neutral position.
  • Relax your muscles as much as possible; tensing up while you’re working will make it more likely you’ll suffer from RSI.
  • If it helps, you can always hang your protocol in front of you, so you don’t need to constantly bend your neck and look down to find the next step.

Take breaks – Organizing your workload is key when trying to avoid RSI. When planning your workflow, make sure to include breaks as well. Stopping for a few minutes after a moderate period of repetitive motion is necessary, as it allows your muscles and joints to recuperate intermittently, lessening the burden on them.

The toll of all that hard work

RSI is more common in laboratory personnel than other workers. A study in Sweden found that the prevalence of RSI was double that of state employees who did not work in labs and that pipetting for more than 300 hours per year was a risk factor for RSI.2 A similar study in the United Kingdom confirmed these results, where 80 pipette users had an elevated risk of RSI compared with 85 people who did not use pipettes for their work, with almost 90% of workers who pipetted for 60 continuous minutes or more complaining of hand pain.3 In the United States, RSIs are not even specifically addressed by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); if a citation is issued for an RSI, it is categorized as a general duty clause that states labs must be kept free of safety hazards.4

RSIs represent a constant, silent danger to working in a lab. Once an RSI appears, it’s hard to treat since the part of the body that’s affected will need to keep performing that same activity again and again, making the injury worse over time. Ultimately, you lose productivity, and for some, their entire livelihood can be curtailed by a serious RSI. That’s why it’s worth investing in strategies to limit exposure to RSIs, making your lab a safer and more comfortable place to work in.  

LabTAG by GA International is a leading manufacturer of high-performance specialty labels and a supplier of identification solutions used in research and medical labs as well as healthcare institutions.

Automated labelers by Scinomix

References:

  1. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. NIEHS Health and Safety Guide to Laboratory Ergonomics. Research Triangle Park, NC; 2001.
  2. Björksten MG, Almby B, Jansson ES. Hand and shoulder ailments among laboratory technicians using modern plunger-operated pipettes. Appl Ergon. 1994;25(2):88-94.
  3. David G, Buckle P. A questionnaire survey of the ergonomic problems associated with pipettes and their usage with specific reference to work related upper limb disorders. Appl Ergon. 1997;28(4):257-262.
  4. Fogarty M. Arm and Wrist Injuries Teach Scientists to Accept Limits. The Scientist. March 2004.

 

Alexander Goldberg, Ph.D.
The scientific writer and social media manager at GA International. Dr. Alex Goldberg earned his Ph.D. in biology and previously worked as a post-doc in toxicology and medicine, studying chronological lifespan in yeast, anti-neoplastic small molecules, and the genetics of tuberous sclerosis complex.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

About LabTAG

LabTAG is the worldwide leader in cryogenic and chemical-resistant label manufacturing. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, and a catalog of 6000+ products, we have the selection and know-how to meet your labeling needs.

Learn more about LabTAG

Most Popular

Biospecimen Labeling & How it Will Help Your Lab Effectively Track Data

Proper biospecimen labeling in biorepositories, biobanking, or research labs is critical, especially when conducting clinical studies that link clinical data to biospecimen analysis. Confusing,...

The History & Rise of Cancer Diagnostics

Cancer represents a major cause of death and an important barrier to increasing life expectancy in every country of the world. The earlier it...

Reading Between the Lines: The Ins & Outs of Barcode Grading

Updated in 2016, the international standard for barcode quality ensures that barcodes used by manufacturers and their customers meet rigorous testing criteria. So, how...

Using Specimen Tracking Systems in Histology/Pathology to Improve Efficiency

Pathology and histology labs process a large volume of specimens on a daily basis. These specimens need to be properly identified to ensure patients...

Connect with us

820FansLike
1,953FollowersFollow
297FollowersFollow
108SubscribersSubscribe

More Categories

Recent Comments

Michelle Yin on The Science of Cryogenics