Laboratory Workbenches

lab_awkward_postureWhen used inappropriately, laboratory workbenches can expose researchers to a variety of hazardous conditions or ergonomic risk factors depending on the laboratory procedure being used. Most workbenches at the University are of fixed heights and cannot be modified (raised or lowered). In general, they are the same height and were designed for light to slightly heavy work. Using a laboratory workbench as a computer workstation is an example of inappropriate use, since it forces the worker to assume a variety of awkward postures and may increase the likelihood of acquiring MSD. 

  • If workbench height is above elbow height, between 37 and 43 inches, use for precision work.
  • If workbench height is just below elbow height, between 34 and 37 inches, use for light work.
  • If workbench height is below elbow, between 28 and 35 inches, use for heavy work.

Preventative Measures:

  • Always assume proper sitting or standing neutral posture.
  • When sitting, use only adjustable stool or chair with built-in foot and arm rest to insure lower back, thigh, and feet support.
  • If leg clearance is not available, workbench must not be used for work requiring using a stool. Otherwise, create leg room under the bench by removing drawers.
  • When standing for extended periods of time, use anti-fatigue mats and a foot rest to reduce joint strain and muscle fatigue.
  • Remove drawers, supplies, and other materials underneath workbenches to provide leg room.
  • Take frequent small breaks to alter repetition, body awkward posture, and muscle static work.