Though pipettes are one of the most widely used and essential tools in clinical and scientific labs, prolonged use of the instrument could result in work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD’s). The major ergonomic risk factors relate to awkward posture, repetition and force.
Lab workers may be required to use a pipette for several hours during a day. Certain hand and arm muscles involved during the pipetting process are subject to stress. The necessity to use force during aspirating, dispensing and detipping increases the risk of hand muscle injury. The need to repeat the task also contributes to overall stress and fatigue. Here are some tips to minimize stress with pipette use:
- To reduce stress caused by awkward posture, use shorter pipettes. Keep your elbows as close to the body as possible, with arms and wrists extended and straight positions. Keeping what you need within easy reach helps avoid the need to twist or move your body unnecessarily. Use an ergonomically designed chair with proper back and foot support.
- To minimize force, use pipettes that need only minimal finger or thumb movement or physical strength to suction or dispense fluids. When applying tips, avoid pounding with the base of the palm.
- Reduce repetitive stress by taking short breaks during a long pipetting session. Distribute the workload between both sides of the body. Share the pipetting task with other personnel during peak periods.
- Contact stress can be minimized by choosing a pipette model that fits well in your hand and offers a relaxed grip span. Have mats or resting pads to place your elbows, rather than resting them on a hard surface.
Many manufacturers of pipettes take care to design the instruments to suit the needs of users and reduce the stresses that cause fatigue and pain. Purchase your pipettes from a reliable lab equipment dealer that offers several brands of quality instruments so that you can choose one that best meets your needs.