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Working in a laboratory is a unique environment that calls for many behaviors that are not necessary in a normal office setting. These can include long hours of standing, working with machines, and wearing proper safety gear. Due to these distinctive requirements, lab work can often be physically demanding. Check out these 7 health tips to take care of yourself while living the lab lifestyle:
Depending on your duties, you might find yourself standing at the bench or sitting crouched over a desk for the entirety of your workday. Try to change up your position from sitting to standing to increase blood flow and circulation. In order to avoid neck, back, and foot pain, invest in supportive shoes, stand on padded mats, and perform daily stretches to relieve your neck, shoulders, and back.
2. Eye Strain
It is also common to spend extended periods of time concentrating on computer screens or other machines. Whether you are recording, reading, or analyzing, this behavior can strain your eyes, leading to headaches or blurred vision. Make sure to take breaks from your computer and that the font size of your screen is large enough to avoid squinting.
Laboratories are often set at a specific temperature according to the nature of your experiments, meaning that they are not set for human comfort. Often labs tend to be cooler than most people might prefer for their work environment. In order to stay warm, have hot tea or coffee available and dress in layers so that you can adjust your body temperature accordingly.
Many labs also have few windows or maybe none at all if you work in the basement of a building. Little to no natural light can irritate your eyes and also impact your emotional well-being. Make sure to take breaks to get outside in the sunlight or sit by a window outside of your lab. It’s also a good time to get some fresh air.
Speaking of air, the air in office buildings and labs can be very dry. In addition, you may find yourself washing your hands an excessive amount in the lab. Both factors can lead to skin damage and dryness. Although these are not serious repercussions, it can be very uncomfortable. Make sure to lotion your hands daily or use moisturizing soap. Keep eye drops around in case the dry air also affects your eyes.
This tip applies to all work settings, however standing for long periods and being in the dry air will make you feel especially dehydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid any negative symptoms like headaches, dizziness, fatigue, etc. Don’t overdo the coffee either, as that will increase these side effects.
Don’t slack on the safety rules – they are enforced for a reason. You don’t need to be told that labs can be dangerous places, but getting too comfortable in the lab and failing to follow procedure is a risky business. Use the proper precautions specific to your lab and do not eat or drink at the bench.
Working in the lab can be both exciting and rewarding for individuals who are inquisitive and enjoy hands-on work. However, it’s important to remember to take care of your health under these demanding circumstances. So listen to your body and use these tips as a guide to keep yourself happy and healthy at the workplace.
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