Pipette Ergonomics

With repetitive tasks that are commonly associated with pipette use, it is important to be aware of your body position and respond appropriately if you ever encounter discomfort.

Pipette Posture

  • Maintain straight wrists - Do not twist or rotate your wrists while using the pipette
  • Always have a relaxed but firm grip on the pipette
  • Keep elbows and your body close to your work
  • Try to sit with your work slightly below your elbows which will reduce the need to raise your arms
  • For every 15 minutes of pipette work, take a 2 minute break
  • Rotate pipette tasks with other activities

Pipette Posture

Pipette Injuries and Common Causes

Possible Cause Symptoms
Repetitive Tip Insertion/ Pipette Manipulation Discomfort in the wrist and elbows
Forceful Pipette Grip/ Plunger/ Ejection with Thumb

Discomfort on thumb side of wrist or where the fingers and thumb join the palm

Awkward Wrist Posture While Using the Pipette Weakness in the hand; numbness, discomfort or tingling in the fingers or wrist
Tip Insertion and Ejection Away From the Body Increasing elbow discomfort; discomfort from the forearm and contact pain on the elbows
Resting Elbow on the Lab Bench or Surface Numbness or tingling in the ring and little ringer; loss of hand strength, elbow pain

Pipette Selection

  • Select the lightest pipette that can fit in your hand comfortably
  • When possible, use multi-channel pipettes to reduce repetitions
  • Try pipette that have finger aspirators and thumb dispensers to reduce thumb strain
  • Latch-mode or electronic pipettes are useful for repetitive tasks
  • Use thin-walled pipette tips that are easy to eject

Select Appropriate Pipette for Task

Pipette sizes

Select Correct Tips to Pipette Size

pipette tip size

Lab Workstations

  • Keep waste bins, beakers and often used equipment within reach. Use low profile waste bins, these bins should not be taller than the tubes being filled.
  • Use low profile tubes, solution containers and waste bins to prevent shoulder strain
  • Adjust the height of sample holders, solution containers and waste bin to avoid bending of the wrists
  • Use anti-fatigue mats or sole inserts if you standing for more than 20 minutes at a time
  • Make sure the area underneath your bench is clear of boxes and materials so you can sit close enough to your work

Understand the Demands of Reaching and Holding

demands of reaching