Monday, October 15, 2007

The Science of Ergonomic Laboratory Seating

Ergonomic seating in difficult environments such as a laboratory ...

"In laboratory environments, it’s not uncommon for people to spend greatly extended periods of time working in seated positions. Unfortunately, neither is developing the bad seating habits which can lead to serious repetitive injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, and associated work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The key to preventing them is employing ergonomic principles in workspace design, seating posture, and chair selection.

According to Ed Metzger, president of BioFit Engineered Products, a global manufacturer of ergonomic seating solutions, the first step in avoiding ergonomic problems is to work within an optimum comfort zone. To illustrate this point, Metzger explained his basic “dinner table” rules.

“Think about the way you set a table – everything should be placed within easy reach and range of motion. That’s the way a laboratory workstation should be configured,” Metzger said. “It’s the best way to avoid undue muscle strain and premature fatigue from overextending.

“In addition, seating must allow for different user seat and back sizes, and a range of ergonomically correct seat heights, as well as unique forward seat-tilt, seat-height, and backward-lean adjustments, while providing the right lumbar support for the task at hand,” Metzger said. “It’s all about understanding the subtleties of ergonomic seating and how they relate to different work environments, and people of varying stature.”

Jim Frobose, manager of engineering at BioFit, adds that laboratory employees also are looking for chairs that resist corrosion from contact with test samples. In that regard, chrome plating is one of several features that can help these furniture products withstand subsequent daily contact with anti-bacterial solvents.

“Vinyl seating is very popular because it cleans easily,” Frobose said. “On the ergonomics front, it’s important to remember that chairs should be made to fit the user and not the other way around. Everything should be adjustable, from the foot rings to the armrests. Waterfall seats are also important because they can help prevent circulation problems associated with sitting in chairs that have hard front edges."    (Continued via ALN Magazine)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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