Ergonomics for Clinical Support & Diagnostic Services – Laboratories

Laboratory researchers and technicians are at risk for repetitive motion injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders during routine laboratory procedures such as pipetting, working at microscopes, operating microtomes, using cell counters, displays and computers. Repetitive motion injuries develop over time and occur when muscles and joints are stressed, tendons are inflamed, and nerves are pinched and the flow of blood is restricted. Standing and working in awkward positions in laboratory hoods/biological safety cabinets can also present ergonomic related problems. By becoming familiar with how to control laboratory ergonomic risk factors, you can improve employee comfort, productivity, and job satisfaction while lowering chances for occupational injuries. (CDC, 2002)

On this page:

Guidelines & Toolkits


Other Resources

Also refer to Resources on the Computer Workstation Page

Guidelines and Toolkits

Ergonomics in the Laboratory from the Division of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS) website

Laboratory Ergonomics a variety of ergonomics tips from UCLA Ergonomics

Laboratory Ergonomics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Laboratory Ergonomics Stressors from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Phlebotomy Workstation Redesign Project (2002). Ness, T and Calvez, V. Kaiser Permanente. This project was funded by a grant from the Oregon OSHA Worksite Redesign Program.

Lab Ergonomics – multiple resources from Harvard University

Articles & Publications

Ergonomics Case studies from the Navel Safety Center

Ergonomics Case studies from the Dept. of Defense Ergonomics Working Group

Ergonomics Papers from Rainin/Mettler Toledo Company

  • Pipetting, ergonomics, and you: ergonomics, pipetting risk factors, methods for reducing risk of injury, and recommended solutions Rainin ergonomic paper.
  • Smart pipetting: using ergonomics to prevent injury Erickson/Woodard.
  • Laboratory ergonomics: the wake-up call. Hoskins/Erickson.
  • Cumulative trauma disorders: their recognition and ergonomic measures to avoid them. Kroemer.
  • Hand and shoulder ailments among laboratory technicians using modern plunger-operated pipettes. Bjorksten et al.
  • Ergonomic benefits of LTS pipettes. Fox.

Hand and shoulder ailments among laboratory technicians using modern plunger-operated pipettes (1994). Björksten, M.G., Almby, B., and Jansson, E.S. Appl Ergon. 25(2):88-94.

Laboratory, ergonomics guidelines. On-line slide show reviews ergonomics risk factors in common laboratory tasks from the University of California at San Diego.

Pipettes and syringes – good design and safe use from the UK Health and Safety Executive.


Other Resources

Improving Design through Ergonomics Analysis (2004). Presentation completed by students at Cornell describing their approach to ergonomic issues in the Laboratory and Radiology settings.

The OSHA Hospital E-Tool Healthcare Module for Laboratories. This site contains some ideas for ergonomics as well as other common hazards that might be found in the Laboratory.

Working Safely In Health Care a Practical Guide (2007).  Ed - D. Fell Carlson. Thomson Delmar Learning. Chapter 3 discusses how to Perform Clinical Tasks Safely by applying ergonomics principles to prevent

Ergonomics Checklist for Laboratories. Courtesy of L. Enos