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Ergonomics and Liquid Handling,,, How can BrinkmannTM Help ?

Ergonomics and Liquid Handling
How can BrinkmannTM Help ?

As a laboratory technician, pipetting is a routine laboratory technique that is performed everyday, for a good portion of the day. Pipetting work demands concentration, accuracy and precision. Due to the nature of the tests being conducted, only short breaks can be taken due to time restraints to achieve optimal test results (Friedriksson 1995). Cumulative trauma disorders have become a concern of laboratory technicians since the 1960s when plunger operated mechanical pipettors were first introduced. The switch from bulb operated glass pipettes to mechanical pipettes introduced a repetitive movement that was not used for liquid handling in the past. With the increased numbers of experiments that are required in a normal laboratory setting today, the reports of cumulative trauma disorders have also been increasing.

According to a study conducted in Sweden, technicians who were performing pipetting techniques for more than 300 hours a year had a higher prevalence of hand ailments (Bjrkstn, 1994). This equates to a daily routine of 12 hours a day of pipetting tasks. The features of the pipette, such as the design of the plunger, weight and length of the pipette, force needed to operate the pipette, and how the pipette fits into the hand, (Yltupa 1997) may also increase the risk of cumulative trauma disorder.

With the increased focus on reducing any types of repetitive stress injuries, many pipette manufacturers and health organizations have looked at this field and analyzed causes and possibly preven tative solutions. Some preventative measures that should be followed during pipetting were reported in 1995 in the Fisher Scientific Lab Reporter. The suggestions are as follows:
  • Rotate the pipetting tasks among several people
  • Take short micro pauses of a few seconds, when you cant take a longer break
  • Use only the force necessary to operate the pipette
  • Choose pipettors requiring the least pressure
  • Work with arms close to the body to reduce the strain on shoulders
  • Keep hands and shoulders in a neutral position
  • Use adjustable chairs or stools with built in solid foot stools
  • Dont elevate your arm, without support, for lengthy periods of time
  • Use shorter pipettes. This decreases the arm and hand elevation and consequent awkward positions
  • Use low profile waste receptacles, no higher than the height of the tubes that you are using
Other articles have been written that detail even more suggestions that should be followed (Haskell, 1998), which include:
  • Use electronic pipettes, which are programmable and reduce the need for excessive thumb force and repetition
  • Choose a pipette that fits the hand. The hand should cover more than half, but not the entire, circumference of the pipette
Many of the suggestions that have been made over the course of the past few years focus on the fact that routine pipetting tasks should be spread out over the entire day and shared by all laboratory technicians. This, of course, is the first line of defense to preventing repetitive stress injuries. The second line of defense is the way the pipetting task is ac tually performed. Proper posture and position can also reduce the stress caused by continuous pipetting. The third influential factor is the pipette itself. When choosing a pipette, you should make sure that the pipette fits your hand well, does not weigh too much, easily functions without having to exert undue force and easily ejects pipette tips.

Eppendorf has taken many of these considerations into account when designing the entire line of Eppendorf Pipettes. The pipettes are designed to fit nicely in your hand; the weight of the pipette has been reduced from the past; the force required to operate the piston movement is considerably less that the market leader and tips can easily be ejected by the force of your thumb, and in the electronic pipettes, with your entire hand. Please refer to the following graphs and charts which detail actual weights and forces required to operate the line of Eppendorf pipettes. Manual Pipettes Pipetting Force Summary Manual Pipettes Maximum Pipetting
Pipette Weight
in grams
Force Required
to operate (grams)*
Gilson Pipetman
Eppendorf Series 2100
Eppendorf Series 2000 20L
20L 100
91 1020
453 Gilson Pipetman
Eppendorf Series 2100
Eppendorf Series 2000 100L
100L 118
91 1247
453 Gilson Pipetman
Eppendorf Series 2100
Eppendorf Series 2000 1000L
1000L 127
100 1360
566 * Force includes aspirating, dispensing and blowout.

Eppendorf is a registered trademark of Eppendorf-Netheler-Hinz GmbH.
Pipetman is a registered trademark of Gilson SA.
BrinkmannTM is a trademark of Brinkmann Instruments, Inc. References Bjrkstn, Marianne, Almby, Bo & Jansson, Ejvor. Hand and shoulder ailments among laboratory technicians using modern plunger-operated pipettes, Applied Ergonomics, 25(2),1994, pp. 8894.

Ergonomics, listening to your body at work Lab Reporter, October 1995:1011 .

Haskell, Natalie Kuhtmann. Ergonomic considerations in avoiding cumulative trauma disorder from pipet use, American Laboratory, January 1998:14.

Friedriksson, Kerstin, Laboratory work with automatic pipettes: a study on how pipetting affects the thumb, Ergonomics, 38(5), 1995, pp. 10671073.

Yltupa, Sari, Improving ergonomy in pipetting to prevent work-related upper-limb disorders, International Biotech Lab, 15(2), 1997, pp. 28.



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