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Are lab workers at risk for repetitive motion injury?

Written by Ankin Law Office

Laboratory work can be a fascinating and challenging job. Unfortunately, lab workers also face the danger of repetitive motion injury and other musculoskeletal disorders. By learning about the ergonomic hazards of the job, employees can improve their comfort and cut their risk of repetitive trauma.

Repetitive trauma risks in the lab

The repetitive trauma risks faced by lab workers include all of the following:

  • Improper bench position and posture
  • Pipetting hazards
  • Fume hood hazards

It is vital to learn the necessary ergonomic techniques to stay safe in the lab, as every Illinois work injury lawyer is aware.

Common injuries among lab workers

Repetitive stress injuries among lab workers do not develop overnight. They occur when people spend months or years doing detailed work with improper ergonomics. The typical results of these injuries include inflamed tendons, decreased blood flow, pinched nerves and a restricted range of motion. An Illinois work injury lawyer knows that lab injuries can be disabling if they are not caught and treated in time.

Positive ergonomics for bench work

Working in a laboratory often involves many hours at the lab bench. Improper posture or position can cause serious injury in the long run. Employees should use chairs with sufficient back support. If they are standing at the bench, they need shoes with proper arch cushioning. Seated workers are healthiest when they sit at benches with cutouts. These cutouts allow them to observe their work in detail while remaining supported against the back of the chair.

Safety while pipetting

Repetitive work with a pipette can be strenuous and may lead to joint damage. Workers can avoid the dangers of nerve or tendon trauma by using lightweight pipetters and a relaxed grip. For long-term tasks, an electronic pipette can cut down on wrist strain. After half an hour of pipetting, lab workers should take a brief break of one or two minutes before continuing.

Dangers under the fume hood

Working under a fume hood is a vital part of many laboratory tasks. It is important to use proper hood technique to avoid the risk of repetitive injury. Lab employees need to make sure that they are seated at a convenient height and located within six inches of the hood opening.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 500,000 Americans are currently employed in a laboratory environment. Lab work doesn’t have to be a safety hazard. Employees facing repetitive stress on the job should consider speaking with an Illinois work injury lawyer.