Laboratory Ergonomics

Aside from the risk of working daily with hazardous substances, laboratory personnel are also exposed to many ergonomic risk factors due to the nature of their work and the research they conduct.

Laboratory-associated ergonomic risk factors are not any different from those found in the office and general industry and consist of: awkward and static postures, high repetition, excessive force, contact stresses, vibration, and pinch grip among others.

The purpose of this section is to disseminate information to laboratory employees about how they can control laboratory ergonomics risk factors, improve their level of comfort while performing their jobs, and reduce the risk of acquiring occupational injuries.

If you use a computer extensively along with your research procedures, be sure to visit our Office Ergonomics page too.

Symptom Recognition

As is the case of chemical exposures, it is equally important to recognize the signs and symptoms associated with the laboratory procedure one is using.

Early detection of MusculoSkeletal Disorders (MSD) symptoms helps prevent the onset of MSD. Symptoms associated with repetitive exposure to laboratory ergonomics risk factors include low back pain, pain in the thumb, finger, wrist, forearm, elbow, neck, and shoulder. Other early warming signs include burning, cramping, numbness, swelling, tingling, weakness, or fatigue.

If you feel pain, or notice such signs or symptoms, do not ignore them or let them go unnoticed, no matter how minor they are — you may be at risk of developing a work-related MSD. Take immediate action: assess your work habits, look for the causes of your symptoms, and take necessary preventative measures. Contact our Office at: dehs@umn.edu for a free ergonomic assessment.