Laboratory Ergonomics

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Author: Tanya Barrett, MT(ASCP)
Reviewers: Barbara Cebulski, MS, MLS(ASCP); Daniel J. Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ)

Do you experience pain or stiffness in your back, arms, or legs at the end of your work day or after performing the same task at work for prolonged periods of time? Perhaps your workstation, equipment, and/or work practices are the cause. Whether you are an employer or an employee, it is important to recognize the work hazards that can lead to musculoskeletal injury, determine what improvements or changes should be made, and take action to improve your workspace.

Continuing Education Credits


  • Define ergonomics.
  • Discuss the role of ergonomics in a laboratory safety program.
  • Identify ergonomic risk areas in the laboratory.
  • Provide solutions to common ergonomic hazards.

Course Outline

  • Introduction
      • Ergonomics
      • Ergonomic Evaluation
      • The scientific study of a human response to the work environment is referred to as which of the following?
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
      • Causes of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders
      • Repetitive Motion Injuries
      • Eyestrain
      • Which of the following is a symptom of a repetitive motion injury?
      • Light sensitivity and headaches are symptoms of what disorder?
  • Ergonomic Strategies
      • Learn to Use Your "Ergonomic Eye"
      • Body Position
      • Ergonomic Guidelines for Computer Users
      • Examine the image on the right. What problems can you see that may result in MSDs for this laboratory worker if her job involves frequent use of the c...
      • Guidelines for Lifting, Lowering, and Carrying
      • Which of the following is NOT a good work practice?
    • Your Ergonomic Assessment
      • Work Station
      • Lighting
      • Posture and Exercises
      • What is the recommended reach radius for items that are used routinely at your work station?
  • Scenarios
      • Scenario #1
      • Scenario #2
      • Scenario #3Jim spends most of his workday sitting on a stool at the technical workbench. The image on this page illustrates how he routinely sits. The...
      • Which of the following could be an ergonomic hazard?
  • The Ergonomics Program
      • Creating an Ergonomically Safe Work Environment
      • The Four E's
  • References
      • References

Additional Information

Level of Instruction: Basic
Intended Audience: Clinical laboratory personnel and other health care personnel who have an interest in this subject matter. This course is also appropriate for clinical laboratory science students and pathology residents.
Author Information: Tanya Barrett, MT(ASCP) is the Laboratory Information System and Point-of-Care Coordinator for St. Francis Medical Center and St. Francis North Hospital in Monroe, Louisiana and a faculty member for the Medical Center's School of Medical Technology. She also serves as the laboratory's Safety Officer and has over 40 hours of training in Occupational Safety.  
Reviewer Information: Barbara Cebulski, MS, MLS(ASCP) has over 40 years of experience in the medical laboratory profession as a technologist, section supervisor, and laboratory manager. She was an Inspection and Technical Specialist for nine years with the College of American Pathologists in the Laboratory Accreditation Program and, until her retirement in 2015, was Program Director for MediaLab, Inc. Barbara holds a Masters in Instructional Technology from Georgia State University.
Reviewer Information: Daniel J. Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, CQA (ASQ) has over 25 years of experience as a certified Medical Technologist. He has a bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology from the State University of New York at Buffalo in Amherst and Buffalo, New York. Dan worked as a laboratory generalist in hospitals ranging in size from 75 to 800 beds before becoming a laboratory manager. After 10 years of lab management, he became the Laboratory Safety Officer for a system of more than 10 hospitals and over 20 laboratories and draw sites in the Tidewater area of Virginia.
Course Description: This course explores general ergonomic issues that may be a concern for any worker and specific ergonomic issues that are specifically related to the laboratory work environment. The course also discusses actions that can be taken to prevent musculoskeletal disorders that are job related.

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