Infographic showing improper and proper posture when working with an ergonomic microscope


Work comfortably and productively with an ergonomic microscope

Ergonomic microscopes are designed with the operator in mind to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and increase productivity.

Studies show that it’s not uncommon for microscope operators to experience pain as part of their job. This is due to the sustained postures of the head, neck and body required to operate a traditional microscope. With an ergonomic microscope, however, the operator is able to sit up straight or stand up when doing microscopy work.

Focusing on microscope ergonomics will reduce eye strain, neck and back pain. In turn, productivity will increase and escape rates will be reduced. But where should you even start? Don’t worry, that’s what we’ll help you figure out in this guide.

Why we need to focus on microscope ergonomics

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

The pain experienced by microscope operators is often located in their lower arms, wrists, neck, shoulders or back. Many also report eyestrain and headaches as the most common types of pain.

This doesn’t come as a surprise if you observe a microscope operator and what their setup looks like. Typically, they have to lean forward to look into an eyepiece, creating awkward postures and straining their eyes to complete their inspections.


Reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders with microscope ergonomics

Where microscope ergonomics come in is the fact that musculoskeletal disorders can in fact be prevented. According to the US Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the three largest factors in musculoskeletal disorders are: awkward postures, repetition and forces.

By changing the postures and the number of repetitive movements required to operate a microscope, you’ll not only create a more comfortable setup for your microscope operators. According to a study of 20 inspectors that were previously using illuminated magnifiers, introducing simple ergonomic intervention methods also showed the following results:

  • Eyestrain reduced by 36%
  • Headaches were reduced by 45 %
  • Extremity fatigue reduced by 28%
  • Significant savings in annual customer returns for the company

What is an ergonomic microscope?

Knowing the importance of microscope ergonomics, let’s focus on what an ergonomic microscope is.

An ergonomic microscope is a microscope that is designed with the operator in mind and that focuses on relieving them of job-related pain. An ergonomic microscope thus reduces awkward postures and repetitive movements, two factors often leading to musculoskeletal disorders.

Below is an illustration of how an ergonomic microscope allows the microscope operators to sit up straight by using a monitor rather than an eyepiece. This relieves back and neck pain as well as reduces eyestrain and headaches.

Illustration of microscope operators and how different systems affect their posture

The benefits of using an ergonomically designed microscope

The most important benefit of using an ergonomically designed microscope is of course that it reduces job-related pain for microscope operators.

What’s worth noting though is that using an ergonomic microscope can also reduce extremity fatigue which in turn will increase productivity and reduce mistakes caused by fatigue. Focusing on microscope ergonomics can thus have a positive impact on your customer claim rates.

Depending on which ergonomic microscope you choose (more on that below), you’ll also find that there’s additional health-related benefits from choosing a microscope that doesn’t have an eyepiece.

If the microscope is normally used by multiple operators, you’d have to clean the eyepiece between shifts to keep them sanitary. By using a microscope that doesn’t have an eyepiece, this step of cleaning the microscope no longer becomes necessary as the operator’s head won’t be in direct contact with the microscope itself.

Companies that have benefitted from focusing on microscope ergonomics

Let’s now have a look at two companies that have benefitted from choosing an ergonomic microscope.

MSL Circuits

MSL Circuits, one of Europe’s leading subcontractors for the automotive industry and the only subcontractor in France providing high volume PCB manufacture, recently upgraded their magnifying lamps to digital microscopes that use a monitor rather than an eyepiece and have seen great results.

While MSL Circuits initially chose TAGARNO because of the userfriendly interface, they’ve been able to work more efficiently after introducing a visual inspection system designed to comply with ergonomic rules and principles for optimal comfort between workers and machines.

Nordic seed

With employees having to take sick leave due to work related pain, Nordic Seed, a Danish seed lab with locations throughout Europe, decided to replace their magnifying lamps and stereo lights with a digital and ergonomically correct alternative.

After going digital, the employees have been able to alternate between sitting down and standing up to relieve some of the pain they used to experience by sitting in the same position the entire day. One employee in particular attributed the flexible setup as being the reason why she was able to return to work quicker than expected after a traffic accident.

Person using a TAGARNO TREND to inspect seed and grain

What ergonomic microscope options are available?

There’s different ergonomic microscopes available to choose from.

If you have a stereo microscope already, the easiest way to make it more comfortable to use is by purchasing accessories that can change the height, viewing height, and viewing angle of the microscope.

Alternatively, choose a stereo microscope with an adjustable eyepiece or a digital microscope with a monitor instead of an eyepiece. The digital display allows the operator to look straight ahead rather than downwards through an eyepiece, relieving them of back, neck and shoulder pain and reduces headaches and eyestrain.

At TAGARNO, all microscopes use a monitor and would be a great way to create an ergonomic workstation.

Which ergonomic microscope from TAGARNO is right for you will depend on your magnification needs, how much you need to document your work and if you’d like to use software as part of your inspections.

To help you find the right microscope, we recommend using our configurator that’ll recommend a microscope for you based on your needs.


There’s more to read

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

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