The topic of ergonomics in the lab is important because it directly impacts employee comfort and productivity. The body is stressed by repeated movements. Scinomix believes in the power of our people and prioritizes work environment for all employees. Our automation specifically addresses reducing repetitive tasks. So, it’s important to us to shed some light on the effect ergonomics can have on workers and how lab automation serves as a solution to address this issue.
Performing repetitive tasks in the lab often takes a toll on workers both physically and mentally, resulting in decreased productivity, jeopardized quality, lowered employee morale, and significant injuries. This creates a lose-lose situation for the employer and employee, costing all involved time and money.
Repetitive tasks are one of the most common complaints amongst professionals working in the lab and a large reason why laboratory automation is being adopted across labs in all industries. As technology advances in the lab industry, companies can improve the employee experience, making themselves more desirable employers and reducing turnover.
Ways ergonomics impacts labs:
Decreased Productivity, Efficiency and Quality
- Performing physically repetitive tasks in the lab is not only tedious and time-consuming, it can be extremely uncomfortable and painful for the worker. For instance, pipetting or hand labeling tubes for long periods of time can start to cause stress and pain in the hands and fingers, resulting in lowered productivity and efficiency.
- Mentally, manual and monotonous tasks can quickly become tiresome and boring. Workers that feel this way often pay less attention to the task, jeopardizing quality.
- People working in the lab have a very specialized skill-set that should not be wasted! It is important to allow them the opportunity to utilize and enhance their talents. Tedious tasks are often distracting, keeping employees from completing more important work.
Lowers employee moral
- Aside from the physical effects, employees might start to feel discouraged when their day-to-day work is taken up by mundane duties that leave them feeling unfulfilled. It’s important to make sure employees are happy and feel accomplished to create a successful workplace.
- Workers want to feel valued by their employer. If they don’t see an effort being put forth to make working conditions comfortable and safe, employee morale is compromised, making workers less likely to complete tasks in the lab.
- When work becomes dull and mindless, it’s easy to feel frustrated and down, leading to lower employee morale. This often results in higher employee turnover and unhappy workers.
- Physical injuries are commonly caused by performing repetitive tasks.
- Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a common occurrence in the lab, caused by conducting the same repetitive motions for an extended period of time.
- Carpal tunnel is also a common injury of people working in the lab. Carpal tunnel is caused from injuring one specific nerve in the wrist, and starts as pain and/or tingling sensations in the hands and fingers.
- It’s important to highlight that although they occur over time, immediate reduction of repetitive tasks has immediate impact on the likelihood of an injury developing.
Costs money for BOTH employers AND employees
- Ergonomics affects employers financially. Research shows costs related to ergonomics can cost health care employers as much as $20 billion dollars annually: “Employers could be spending over $20 billion dollars annually on (Musculoskeletal Disorder) MSD direct-care costs, and the indirect costs could be up to 5 times as much. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, around 20 percent of days of missed work are due to injuries that happen as a result of poor office design. Companies that consider their employees’ work environment and how it can affect health and efficiency potentially can reduce workplace injuries.” (From https://www.nethealth.com/ergonomics-the-cost-of-workplace-conditions/)
- Employees lose time on the job, as well as endanger long term employability
Important Solutions to Address Ergonomics
- Automation can remove the mundane work and ultimately increase productivity and efficiency.
- The right automation frees up time in the lab and allows workers to attend to the work that matters most.
- Injuries can be eliminated with the implementation of automation.
- Automation saves significant costs for employees and employers by eliminating repetitive tasks that cause injuries.
Laboratory automation can address many issues associated with ergonomics in the lab. It can lessen the burden of employees and free their time to attend to the most important jobs to increase productivity and efficiency. It helps solve the problem that causes many people stress and physical injury through flexible automated solutions.
There are many different types of automation. Check out our blog post “Five Tips to Help in Your Search for Lab Automation” for some pointers on how to find automation that is right for your lab.
Contact Scinomix with any questions you might have!