Re: Ergonomics & the Histotech

Hi Deb,

Your idea for a cut-out countertop for your microtomy area is a good one.
I don't have exact measurements but I've seen this done many times,
especially in the microscopy sections of Cytology Laboratories.  Can you
try out the "feel" of the workspace since you have an existing area that
gave you the idea?  Try cutting there for a few days and see how you like

Another option is to have an "L" shaped workstation.  The microtomy area
can be set up at an ergonomically correct height and the water bath can
then be placed on an extension of the cabinet on either the right or left
side, depending on user preference.  In a manner similar to the cut-out
workstation, the microtomist can obtain a ribbon and swivel the chair to
lay it out on the water bath.  No more awkward movements of the back to
reach across to an adjacent water bath.

No matter which design you decide upon, be certain to get a good chair with
as many ergonomic features as possible.  It might also be a good time to
move to automated microtomy, if you haven't already.  I wish you luck.  Let
me know how it works out.

Best regards,


                    Metro Lab"           To:     ,      
                    09/19/2002           cc:                                                
                    11:24 AM             Subject:     Re: Ergonomics & the Histotech        

We are looking to revamp our counter for microtoming.  The idea we have is
to to have a cut out in the counter to be up closer to the microtome and to
have room for the water bath and our arms to cut ergonomically correct.
Does anyone have anything like this and if so how deep is this cut out??
We came up with idea from a double head microscope table.
Deb Croegaert
Metro Labs
Davenport Iowa

----- Original Message -----
To: "Carroll, Benjie" ;

Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2002 3:08 PM
Subject: Re: Ergonomics & the Histotech

> Hello Benjie,
> The NSH office forwarded your message to me since I am one of the NSH
> Health and Safety Committee advisors for ergonomics issues.  I was glad
> see that you posted your questions on Histonet also.  You will get a lot
> good feedback from the group, and I think you will find that there is no
> lack of emotion from the individuals who have suffered injuries.
> I only know of one study conducted strictly on individuals performing
> histotechnology related job skills.  The results of that study were
> published in the Journal of Histotechnology as part of a three part
> (see below for references).  General information on Work Related
> Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD) can be found on the OSHA,
>, and NIOSH,,
> websites.  Both agencies offer many free publications that are very
> for setting up an ergonomics program in any facility.  (I don't know if
> they ship to Canada however.)  You can also search for web sites that
> ergonomic furniture and suggestions for workstation designs.
> Keep in mind that repetitive motions do not necessarily cause injury.
> Usually, injury occurs when repetitive motions are combined with a
> stressor, such as using force or working in an awkward position.  They
> also be influenced by environmental factors and human factors, such as
> gender, diet, general health and smoking.   Non-work related activities
> also contribute to injury.
> There is an abundance of automated equipment available for almost every
> histotechnology discipline.  Many employers are strongly recommending a
> shift to automated equipment, especially for microtomy, staining and
> coverslipping.  Unfortunately, it is common to see automated equipment
> being used manually because changing techniques requires a learning curve
> that many users can't work into their schedule.  Most of us are using
> computers, often a major contributor to WMSD.
> If you are planning to attend the NSH Symposium/Convention next month in
> Long Beach, you might wish to enroll in  Workshop #56, Ergonomics and
> Does It Have To Do With Histology, on Monday, September 30th.  It will be
> presented by Pearl Gervais, my fellow ergonomics advisor, and Susan
> I'm certain it will be a very good course.
> I'm sure we could all benefit from the responses you receive, so please
> share off-line messages with the group.
> Best regards,
> Jan Minshew
> Marketing Manager
> Leica Microsystems
> References:
> Herman, Gilbert E., et al., Histologists, Microtomy, Chronic Repetitive
> Trauma, and Techniques to Avoid Injury: I.   A Statistical Evaluation of
> the Job Functions Performed by Histologists, The Journal of
> Histotechnology, Vol. 18, No. 2, June 1995.
> Herman, Gilbert E., et al., Histologists, Microtomy, Chronic Repetitive
> Trauma, and Techniques to Avoid Injury I I. A Physical and Rehabilitation
> Medicine Physician's Perspective, The Journal of Histotechnology, Vol.
> No. 4, December 1995.
> Herman, Gilbert E., et al., Histologists, Microtomy, Chronic Repetitive
> Trauma, and Techniques to Avoid Injury: Comparison of Performance
> Characteristics of a Motorized Microtome to Conventional Rotary
> The Journal of Histotechnology, Vol. 19, No. 1, March 1996.

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