The primary goal of ergonomics is the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
There are many potential causes of MSDs. Injury can occur from a single event (strain, sprain, slip, or fall) or result from build-up of tissue damage from many small injuries. An MSD can develop over time if a motion is repeated consistently so that the constant trauma causes damage to a muscle, tendon, bone, or bursa of a joint. Force, vibration, or maintenance of an awkward position for a prolonged period of time can cause MSDs.
Some specific causes of MSDs that are related to laboratory tasks are:
- Prolonged use of a keyboard or mouse
- Prolonged sitting at a microscope
- Screwing and unscrewing vial caps
- Standing at a laboratory instrument for a prolonged period of time
- Lack of rest-- intensive hours at the workstation with few breaks
- Sustained awkward position