If you haven’t done so already, you may believe that selecting or purchasing the correct lab bench is simple: all you need is a comfortable and efficient workstation to support your employees’ workflow while being cost-effective.
When designing or renovating a laboratory, the influence that lab benches have on employees is something that should always be considered. While you may think that selecting or purchasing the correct lab benches is simple and straightforward, you will need to do some preliminary work to ensure that you get the proper workbench for your lab.
To create the best working environment for your lab technicians, there are several things that you should consider, especially regarding how to measure the right laboratory bench for your workspace. Below, we will walk you through all the things to consider when measuring your lab bench dimensions to ensure it’s adequately incorporated in your lab.
Continue reading below to learn more and discover why LabTech Supply Company is the number one trusted company to call for all of your laboratory bench and furniture needs.
What is a Bench in a Laboratory?
In a scientific laboratory, a laboratory workbench, sometimes known as a lab bench, is a work table that provides space and work surface for conducting tests and procedures, storing lab equipment, and creating workstations for technicians or students.
A laboratory workbench surface can be made from a variety of materials, depending on the customer’s specific needs. Edge-grained maple, self-edged laminate, PVC-edged laminate, composite resin wood, electrostatic dissipative (ESD) laminate, epoxy resin, chemical resistant laminate, and stainless steel are just a few examples of surfaces.
A lab bench frequently includes drawers and shelves, which, like the bench’s work surface, are made of a range of materials. Industry-specific attachments, such as epoxy and stainless steel sinks, gas valves, and fume hoods may be included with lab benches. Bench load capabilities can reach tens of thousands of pounds, and benches with wheels can be added for additional mobility and convenience.
Whether you’re designing a laboratory from scratch or renovating an existing lab, spacing and size are critical factors to consider. The first thing to consider is the overall size of the space. A laboratory does not have a standard size, which means that workbenches of various sizes are available for you to choose from. As a result, purchasing a bench that fits well in the laboratory is recommended.
It’s challenging to work on little benches, as many laboratory instruments are delicate and should be handled with extreme caution. The device is more likely to tumble when the laboratory bench is small.
Because many chemicals are poisonous, these types of mishaps might cause harm to the laboratory user. On the other side, oversized benches take up a lot of space, making it difficult to maneuver around the laboratory workstation if the bench is larger than required.
It’s also crucial to think about the size of the entrance, stairwell, and corridor when purchasing a laboratory bench, as this allows the bench to be easily passed into the laboratory for installation. Most experts agree that laboratory workstations should provide workers with 45 square feet of space. This allows technicians to work in a comfortable and safe environment.
Furthermore, the type of work surface you choose for your lab bench is also crucial. Because the work surface of your lab bench may come into contact with hazardous materials or flames, it’s critical that it’s chemical- and fire-resistant, smooth, and easy to clean.
Lastly, all lab benches should be simple to maintain. Chemically resistant covered flooring is a must-have for flooring under and near lab benches. Because tiles may decay or loosen over time, making the laboratory dangerous, full sheets of flooring are advised instead of tiles.
For chemical laboratories, the rule of thumb for ventilation is that one fume hood is necessary for every two individuals who work with hazardous chemicals. This safeguards the safety of those individuals while also allowing others to undertake trials and studies.
The size of your workbench is a crucial consideration. The majority of workbenches are 24 to 36 inches broad, 30 to 120 inches deep, and 30 to 36 inches tall.
The bench size is determined by the amount of space available in your laboratory or cleanroom. Additionally, the depth of benchtops for various uses may vary, but your specific requirements choose the benchtop’s length.
The height of the benchtop may appear to be typical, but it isn’t. The height of your bench determines two very important things:
- The technician’s level of comfort when working at the lab bench.
- Additional features included on the laboratory bench.
A moveable workbench may be the best option for your laboratory if your design is constantly changing. With heavy-duty locking casters, you can quickly move your lab bench around the laboratory and lock it in place after you’ve found its final resting point.
On the other hand, a stationary workbench might be suitable if your lab’s architecture isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Furthermore, you may be looking to add accessories to your lab bench once you’ve chosen the right one. Add-ons such as LED overhead lights, power plugs, wires, adjustable height and top storage, an electric hydraulic system, and many more accessories are common additions to a workbench and can help you keep your workstation clean, organized, and productive.
Preventive Measures for Bench Work
To avoid injuries at your laboratory workbench, consider following these guidelines:
- Assume good sitting or standing posture at all times.
- Utilize an adjustable height stool or a chair with built-in footrest to ensure lower back, thigh, and foot support when sitting.
- Remove drawers, supplies, and other objects from beneath the workbench to make space for legroom.
- Prevent joint pain and muscular tiredness when standing for long periods of time by using an anti-fatigue mat and a footrest to prop one foot up at a time.
- Interrupt repetition, unnatural body posture, and static muscle work with numerous brief breaks.
Pipetting requires thumb power, repeated motion, and awkward wrist, arm, and shoulder postures. Mental pressure from the accuracy, timing, and precision work required for many pipetting techniques seems to worsen these problems.
To avoid potential pipetting injury risks, be sure to review the following guidelines:
- Work only at proper heights.
- When sitting, utilize an adjustable stool or chair with a built-in footrest or an external footrest to support the lower back and thigh.
- Work with your wrists in a neutral position.
- Avoid wrist and neck twisting and bending by adjusting the height and position of sample holders, solution containers, and trash receptacles. To prevent reaching, keep items close at hand.
- Arrange work such that elbow height and arm height are adequate to reduce shoulder strain.
- Decrease reaching by using small pipettes and shorter waste receptacles for discarded tips.
- Lessen or eliminate contact strain on the thumb and use electronic pipettes for highly repeated pipetting operations or for greater workloads.
- Use ergonomic pipettes whenever possible.
- Alternate continuous pipetting with other tasks, or minor rest breaks every 20 minutes might be taken.
Using a microscope, long hours place pressure on the neck, shoulders, eyes, lumbar back, and arms/wrists.
The following precautions will help you avoid injuries caused by using a microscope:
- Make sure there’s enough room under the workbench for your legs and knees.
- Assume a proper sitting position at all times. Make sure your lower back and thighs are adequately supported. Maintain spine curves in a neutral position.
- Make sure your feet are flat on the floor or resting on a footrest.
- Adjust the eyepiece height on the microscope so that the head and neck area are in a neutral position. To keep your head erect, the vertical position of the eyepiece should be a little higher than average.
- Bring the microscope close to you to maintain an erect head position.
- Working with your elbows-winged is not a good idea. Keep your elbow height the same and close to your sides at all times.
- Make sure your wrists are in a neutral (straight) position as you work. Contact pressure on the forearm and wrist should be avoided. To relieve stress, use foam to cushion sharp edges or wrists and forearms.
- Use a video display terminal to reduce eye and neck strain when viewing a sample.
- Ensure that scopes are kept clean at all times and that light work is adequate.
- Take frequent mini-breaks to relax and stretch your muscles.
Biological Safety Cabinets and Fume Hoods:
The importance of laboratory safety cannot be overstated. Even if you aren’t working with hazardous materials, safety is always the first priority. Make sure you have your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on you at all times and that it is stored in a convenient location.
Due to limited work access, laboratory employees working in biological safety cabinets or fume hoods must adopt a variety of demanding positions. These restrict arm movement, putting a lot of strain on the upper limbs, neck, and back joints.
Injury risks from safety cabinets and fume hoods can be reduced by following these guidelines:
- Place other materials as close together as possible to avoid over-extension. Work at least six inches away from the hood or biological safety cabinet to maintain optimal airflow containment for material and personal protection.
- Maintain appropriate posture at all times. Only sit in an adjustable chair or stool, and if your feet don’t rest firmly on the floor, use a footrest.
- Avoid putting your forearm and wrists in touch with sharp edges. To relieve pressure, provide foam cushioning to the sharp front edge of the fume hood or BSC.
- Use a turntable to keep equipment close to the worker. Excessive reaching and twisting, which puts additional pressure on the low back, are reduced as a result.
- Use anti-fatigue mats and footrests to prevent joint pain and muscular tiredness when standing for long periods of time.
- Take short rests to relieve joint pressure and contact pressure created by sharp edges and change repetitive forearm and wrist movements.
- Keep your line of sight clear and the viewing window of your hood or BSC clean to avoid eyestrain and challenging posture.
Choosing the Right Laboratory Bench for Your Workspace
Laboratories worldwide provide the high-tech settings that lab managers require to develop revolutionary medical therapies, agricultural breakthroughs, and creative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. However, this necessitates the use of high-quality laboratory benches for technicians to conduct their work.
Even the tiniest detail can significantly affect lab function and safety/biosafety if done poorly; thus, it’s crucial to get these places just right for the individuals who use them. Here are a few more things to think about when choosing the right lab work bench for your laboratory.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Laboratory design necessitates much planning ahead of time. The lab can be adapted to the research demands, and extraneous parts may be quickly identified; thus, brainstorming with those using the facilities is essential.
Consider starting the project with a meeting that establishes a shared vision for the project. This information can then be used to ensure consistent execution across the laboratory design phases. This may seem self-evident, yet all it takes is a quick trip inside a lab where wall-mounted piping collides with shelving or electrical devices collide with casework to see the negative consequences of poor coordination.
Contractors and future maintenance employees have hassles as a result of these disagreements, which also have a negative impact on the lab’s appearance. The lab planner, architect, and engineers must collaborate and rigorously back-check designs to develop well-coordinated drawings.
Take Into Account Future Installations
Because research methodologies and practices will change with time, your lab might also need to be prepared for things that researchers may not need at the moment but may require in the future.
Even if these future ramifications aren’t taken into account, a flexible environment is required because two or more researchers may be conducting different activities or have distinct laboratory requirements for a pleasant working environment. In order to stay flexible, the laboratory design should be simple to reconfigure.
Without the need to engage extra staff, workbenches and equipment stations can be reconfigured to match the needs of a new project. Natural lighting and arrangements that lessen the researcher’s physical strain can considerably boost the researcher’s performance.
Identifying critical control zones early in the laboratory design process allows lab planners and architects to produce a natural building design that meets all code and safety/biosafety criteria while also being attractive. Lab planners and architects can create a building design with desirable aesthetics by using new trends targeted at transparency and establishing crucial control areas early in the design process.
Lastly, when planning your lab, it’s vital to include safety features. A well-designed lab allows researchers to focus on their tasks rather than being too concerned about crises and accidents.
Planning for acceptable and adequate storage in any lab environment with heavy work involving chemistry and chemical research. Working with health and safety regulators early in the laboratory design process and interfacing with lab users and management can assist designers in identifying the sorts of chemicals and gases that require storage and define the types of storage needed.
Lab planners must work closely with the team’s mechanical engineers to guarantee that the fume hood and HVAC control systems are in sync for lab safety, containment, and pressurization. This partnership ensures that correct air change rates, lab pressurization, and fume hood containment are fulfilled based on facility and lab needs.
Contact LabTech Supply Company Today to Learn More
It can be challenging to design your laboratory. To stay competitive in the field, it’s critical that laboratories choose the right laboratory benches for their workspace.
At LabTech Supply Company, we understand that our customers want fresh and inventive solutions to keep their laboratory up to date with today’s technology.
That is why we are proud to be a recognized leader in laboratory benches, furniture, workstations, and storage equipment. We look forward to providing your laboratory with all of the necessary components for a highly efficient and productive workspace, whether you want to build a single workstation or a completely renovated laboratory.
To learn more about our 30-year history of custom lab furniture, contact LabTech Supply Company and find out how we can improve your laboratory’s work environment today.