Office of Emergency Management
| Environment, Health & Safety
Tips for Working in a Lab
Activities conducted in a lab, such as using pipettes and microscopes can put stress on your body. Use the following tips to lower your exposure to risk:
Be Aware of Your Posture
- Sit against the back of your chair.
- If you sit back and your feet dangle, lower the chair, adjust the foot ring, or get a footrest.
- Try tilting the seat forward or use a seat wedge to work in a forward posture without leaning or jutting your head forward.
- Try to work at a bench cut out.
- Cut outs can help you get close to your work while sitting against the back of your chair.
- Do not push your chin forward when working. Adjust the position of your work, the work-surface, or the chair to sit in an upright, supported position.
- Keep frequently used trays and supplies within close reach.
- If standing for long periods, use supportive shoes and cushioned mats.
Keep Arms and Hands Relaxed
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your sides when working.
- Avoid reaching out to use instruments and work materials.
- Maintain neutral or aligned wrist and arm postures when working.
- Sit close to your work area, keep objects close, and adjust your chair to match the height of the bench.
- Avoid repetitive or forceful twisting and turning motions (i.e. opening valves or adjusting microscopes).
- Make sure valves and knobs are clean and in good working order.
- Work with your wrist in a neutral or straight position as if you were shaking hands with someone.
- Use light pressure when performing tasks such as pipetting.
- Use electronic pipettes or light touch models whenever possible.
- Select equipment and tools that are the right size for your hand.
- Use padding and tubing to reduce pressure and force when working.
- For example, use rubber tubing on forceps to increase diameter and reduce pinch force.
- Soften sharp edges on work surfaces with padding.
- Use thin, flexible gloves that fit properly.
- Ill fitting and poorly designed gloves increase pinch and grip forces when working.
Avoid Static Positions
- Weight shift often when standing to work.
- Use a stool or shelf to prop up a foot to relieve pressure on your back.
- If standing in one spot for long periods, use cushioned floor mats or shoes with good support.
- Alternate how you hold objects like forceps.
- Switch holding with the thumb and index finger, and the index and middle fingers to vary the task.
- Vary activities.
- Change your position and take breaks every 20 minutes to rest muscles to rest and increase blood flow and circulation.