Microscopes are widely used for industrial, research and clinical applications. However, laboratory microscope users often carry out microscopy for a significant percentage of their overall working hours. For these users, there are specific considerations that are more important than when somebody uses a microscope occasionally. The most critical aspect of these is ergonomics.
Working at the microscope for prolonged periods of time carries a significant risk of injury when a user is not working in a comfortable position. Many of these injuries lead to long periods of staff absence or to users being unable to carry out microscopy work. This means that choosing the right ergonomic microscope and setting it up with each individual user’s ergonomics in mind greatly improves productivity in the long term.
Getting the right ergonomic setup
The setup of an ergonomic microscope is usually straightforward. However, it is important to get the details right. The five STEAM-points can help to get the setup right from the start. These five points are:
- Seat. It is important to start with the chair. Make sure your bottom is at the back of the chair to give enough support to the lumbar spine.
- Table. The position of the microscope on the table should be as close to the edge as possible. This will prevent you from having to lean forward to see through the eyepieces.
- Eyepieces. A flexible observation tube ensures that every user has the eyepieces at the right height. This should be quick in order to make sure that everybody can make these adjustments every time they use the microscope.
- Arms. If the focus controls are too far from the desk, it becomes necessary to bend your wrists upwards, which creates tension in your arms. You can prevent wrist injuries by choosing a microscope with low-positioned focus controls.
- Movement. Even when you are in an optimal position, it can be beneficial to make slight adjustments while you work. Working in exactly the same position for long periods of time can become uncomfortable, even in the optimal setup.
While these STEAM adjustments greatly help in attaining comfort, the actual design of the microscope is key to minimizing any possible injury. To address the issue of ergonomics in laboratory microscopy, Olympus has developed the versatile BX53 microscope with ergonomics at the forefront of its design. It features the latest developments in LED technology to deliver true color rendering from a bright, durable light source, while also delivering a range of ergonomic features.
For example, the extended focus controls enable the user to keep their hands resting on the table while moving the stage. Buttons for controlling the motorized objective switching can be freely located anywhere on the microscope frame or even on the desk. To improve the ergonomics further, the observation tube of the BX53 has also been designed with the unique ability to adjust the eyepiece position in 3D, ensuring that each user can find the most fatigue-free position.
To find out more about the BX53, click here.