Microscope operator using a microscope in correct posture


How do you use a microscope in correct posture?

Learn how to use a microscope ergonomically correct in this blogpost.

With many microscope operators spending hours every day at microscope, it’s important to ensure that they’re using it correctly – not just in terms of functionality, but also ergonomics.

The truth, however, is that many microscope operators, through no fault of their own, are using their microscope incorrectly with significant consequences for their well-being and productivity.

To help you and other microscope operators use microscope in the correct posture, this blogpost will guide you through:

Why is it important to use a microscope in correct posture?

Studies show that 80% of microscope operators experience job-related pain and 20% have missed work due to job-related pain. What’s more, musculoskeletal disorders are responsible for almost 30 % of all worker’s compensation costs in the US, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics.

Focusing on microscope ergonomics thus puts the operator in focus with the goal of relieving them of job-related pain. Studies show, however, that introducing simple ergonomic intervention methods will not only improve the health of the operator but can also have significant impact on their productivity as well as reduce the company’s customer claim rates.

What is the correct posture when using a microscope?

Knowing the importance of creating an ergonomic workstation for microscope operators, the question is how do you do it?

What is correct usage and posture will to some degree depend on the microscope you’re using. Some guidelines, however, are generic and will apply to all kinds of microscopes. For that reason, let’s start with the generic guidelines before going into traditional versus digital microscope guidelines.

Illustration of microscope operators and how different systems affect their posture

Obtaining correct microscope posture with your chair and table

If you’re sitting down to operate the microscope, push your chair as close to the table as possible and remove anything from underneath the table that prevents you from getting close enough.

Then adjust the chair to ensure that your lower back is supported and that you can place your feet, approximately shoulder width apart, on the floor or a footrest. This will create three points of balance, providing maximum stability.

Now, adjust the chair to ensure that your forearms can rest on the table to prevent your arms and shoulder muscles from getting tired. For the same reason, you should also keep your elbows close to your sides as you’re controlling the microscope and use arm rests to support your forearms.

If you have a height adjustable table and like to alternate between sitting down and standing up, make sure that you maintain this position even when you’re standing up.

Adjust table and chair correctly

  • Sit as closely to the table as possible

  • Make sure your lower back is supported

  • Place feet at shoulder width, either on the floor or a footrest

  • Rest forearms on the table and keep elbows close to your sides, even if you’re standing up

  • Obtaining correct microscope posture for your neck

    Leaning forward or bending your neck to inspect your sample will put your neck in an unnatural position and strain your eyes, leading to discomfort. How to position your head is thus another important aspect of using a microscope correctly. This, however, is where the guidelines will differ depending on which microscope you’re using.


    How to use a traditional microscope correctly

    Let’s start with a traditional microscope with an eyepiece. With this kind of microscope, make sure to adjust the height of the eyepiece to minimize bending your neck.

    This can be done by adjusting your table (and chair to match). Alternatively, choose a microscope with an adjustable eyepiece or use compatible accessories to change the viewing height and angle of the microscope. In either case, you may need to move the microscope closer to the edge of the table to avoid bending your neck.

    Using a traditional microscope correctly

  • Move the microscope closer to the edge of the table

  • Adjust the eyepiece to avoid bending your neck

  • How to use a digital microscope correctly

    For digital microscopes with a monitor rather than an eyepiece, the guidelines are slightly different in that your head is not in physical contact with the microscope. Instead, you’ll be using a monitor to inspect the sample.

    To use the digital microscope in the correct posture, make sure that the monitor is centered in front of you. This will allow you look straight ahead rather than twisting your spine or neck to look at the monitor.

    The monitor should also be positioned at eye level. This means having your eyes level with an imaginary line across the monitor, about 2’’-3’’ (3-7 cm) below the top of the monitor. This can be done either by lowering your monitor or raising your chair.

    Using a digital microscope correctly

  • Center the monitor in front of you

  • Position the monitor at eye level

  • Other healthy habits

    Besides the guidelines mentioned above for how to use a microscope in the correct posture, here’s some healthy habits that you can include in your workday to create a better work environment.

    Healthy habits at the microscope

  • Take a break every 15 minutes and relax your eyes by doing eye exercises

  • Alternate between sitting down and standing up to avoid sitting in the same position for longer periods of time

  • Avoid long hours at the microscope by doing other tasks throughout the day that doesn’t require a microscope or by spreading microscope work between several people, if possible

  • Lastly, we always recommend reading the manufacturer’s guidelines for more information on how to use a specific microscope correctly.

    If you’re curious about the ergonomic microscopes from TAGARNO specifically and how they can benefit your business, click the button below.

    There’s more to read

    Now that you’ve made it to the end of this blogpost, here’s a few other blogposts that you might find interesting.

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