Guide to Making Your Lab a More Comfortable Workplace

Guide to Making Your Lab a More Comfortable Workplace

The nature of lab work means lab workers are prone to bodily aches and pains. Back pain, wrist pain and neck pain are all types of discomfort that lab professionals may struggle with because of the constant forward-leaning, repetitive movements, awkward postures or varied desk heights that are involved in their work. However, the good news is many measures can be taken to prevent or reduce the discomfort that lab workers endure. Failing to put these measures in place promptly can result in long-term damage to workers’ health and can also impede their ability to conduct their lab duties properly. 

Professionals in all fields deserve to work comfortably, and lab workers should not be exempt from this. Apart from repetitive movements and awkward posturing, other issues such as having to use unsuitable equipment, lacking ample space to work in, and a limited understanding of ergonomics also contribute to the discomfort lab workers deal with. 

The Challenge of Protecting Lab Workers’ Health

All laboratories are affected by the challenge of protecting lab workers’ health, but will vary vastly when it comes to their investigative processes and what type of results they produce. In terms of ergonomic issues, labs tend to see similar problems arise, and these issues can often affect the general morale of a laboratory team. It’s easy to imagine how feeling discomfort can negatively affect a lab worker’s mood.

While working in a lab that has to deal with these issues, workers may often complain about the conditions they are working under, but lack the know-how to deal with these issues or whom to raise them with. Fortunately, many changes can be made to improve the comfort level of professionals in a lab, and in this article we’ll outline the measures that can be put in place so that every member of a team can safeguard themselves against any health issues without supervision. 

So let’s dive into what exactly these measures are. 

How to Improve Employees Comfort in Labs

1. Reduce stress

Bring those cortisol levels down a touch! Reducing stress levels can be difficult to accomplish when you’re extremely busy working on lab tasks and dealing with deadlines. However, by being able to relax you can reduce how much you tense your muscles, which in turn will reduce the likelihood that you damage those muscles. If you are dealing with muscle damage or any type of pain resulting from muscle tension, this will impede your ability to properly complete your lab tasks. To manage your stress levels try diaphragmatic or “belly breathing’, breathing deeply from your stomach.  

2. Watch your posture

In any work setting your posture is something extremely important to be mindful of. In regards to the lab, whether you are weighing items or looking at samples through a microscope, you should make sure you are sitting/standing properly and maintaining a good posture. 

To ensure you’re keeping a good posture, shoulders should be pulled back, your spine upright and your head in line with your body. By slouching you strain your muscles and ligaments, which can result in headaches, back pain, and disomfort in other parts of the body. You could put up visual aids in your lab (with the permission of your supervisor) that not only remind workers to keep a good posture but demonstrate how they can do this. 

3. Use suitable lab furniture

When workspaces are well-furnished they provide better comfort. To improve the comfort levels in your work setting it is important to use ergonomic furniture. Even with good posture, sitting or standing for a long time can put a strain on the body. When workers have the option of using comfortable seating and a range of workspaces of different heights, it can be extremely helpful in preventing them from being injured while performing strenuous or monotonous tasks. 

There are a lot of different options when it comes to what type of furniture you can choose to make your lab a more comfortable work environment. By prioritising certain factors, you can make your search much easier. When selecting the appropriate lab furniture you must take into consideration the nature of the work you are doing, what type of material the furniture might be exposed to and how long you expect to have to sit in the furniture you choose. 

What type of furniture is available to you?

There are different types of lab furniture on offer to laboratory professionals to help increase comfort and productivity in the lab. These are some of the main ones that are used: 

Laboratory Tables: One of the most important pieces of lab furniture, they are used for most lab procedures. Most lab tables are designed to resist heat and harsh chemicals.

Laboratory Stools/Chairs: Ergonomically designed to help make the lab professionals comfortable while they are working for long periods. Normally lab stools are adjustable and can handle spillage from harsh chemicals. 

Storage Cabinets: Used to store samples, tools and materials. Modern cabinets can be resistant to fire and lockable, keeping them safe. 

Fume hoods: Fume hoods are used to ventilate labs and reduce lab worker’s exposure to dangerous fumes. This is helpful for labs working with harsh or hazardous substances. 

Lab workstations: Useful pieces of equipment that combine your workspace with storage space and sometimes have built-in sinks or other features for your lab needs. 

Mobile lab furniture: Easily movable, these pieces are designed to optimise comfort by allowing for flexibility.  

Anti-vibration tables: These pieces of furniture provide a stable place for equipment that needs to be isolated from any lab task that involves vibration. 

Keep your workstation tidy

Workers should put effort into keeping their workstations tidy. This can result in reduced clutter, increasing safety in the lab, and enhancing ergonomics. When your workspace is

organised you can place your lab equipment strategically to reduce uncomfortable movements and postures. You can either do this by ensuring all lab tools are at arms reach or by placing tools far enough from your workstation that you would have to get up to use the tool, this will encourage movement where extended periods of immobility are an issue. 

4. Encourage your team to learn more about ergonomics

You can’t get the best out of your furniture if you don’t know how to use them or set them up the right way. Ensure you and your colleagues set up your chairs and workstations correctly when you are going to work on a task for a long duration. Make sure you are working with equipment that suits both your anthropometric needs, and the lab procedures you are involved in. It is important to know how to adjust your chair and saddle in a way which maximises your comfort. 

5. Prioritise taking breaks

While it was once a common belief that maintaining a stable upright position was the most beneficial way to deal with back discomfort, newer studies suggest that movement is a better remedy to deal with such issues. So you and your team need to try and increase the amount of breaks they take from workstations and the amount of movement they get throughout the day. When you are working for longer periods make sure to take a break every 45 minutes, or as regularly as you can. Having shorter breaks regularly throughout a working period will be the best way to reduce or prevent bodily discomfort. 

Don’t forget to make sure your furniture meets the exact needs of your lab. A comfortable lab will put your team in a better mood, reduce the likelihood of injury, and allow professionals to work under healthier conditions. Feel free to take a look through our lab furniture catalogue to find the furniture that’s perfect for you, and if you have other lab needs you can find all our supplies. Feel the need to get some extra guidance? You can always get in touch with us. A member of our team will be more than happy to assist you.