Letting Instruments Complete the Repetitive Tasks – Letting Our Bodies Benefit from the Diversity of other Tasks
Humans show an amazing capacity to adapt mentally and physically in their work. We can move almost effortlessly from one task to a different one, each time adapting ourselves for the task. This capacity blinds us as to how we should actually adapt the task to ourselves. In the work context, mal-adjusted chairs, screens and a lack of jigs in manual tasks are evidence of this attitude of ‘making do’ with the conditions while the work could be designed much better to suit our bodies and minds. Unless a task is truly demanding, our typical feeling is that it is ‘OK’ to perform – we are oblivious to the effort and strain required in adapting our versatile body and mind to the task at hand. Even today, this versatility could never be matched by machines, even the most sophisticated robots.
However, the flip side of this quality is that humans perform poorly at very repetitive tasks: such repetitive tasks create monotony, make us tired, bored, drive up errors and harm our bodies which are ‘designed’ for diversity. In the long run, we are working badly and injure ourselves in these tasks. Unfortunately, the Industrial context is abundant with repetitive tasks. And now laboratories are also becoming progressively ‘Industrial’. Certain tasks in the lab work fall today, squarely, in this repetitive corner. However, we should just remind ourselves that in these cases, machines are the perfect partner, because machines are really good in repetitive tasks – they are not good in diverse tasks, the human forte. Therefore, we should leave the repetitive tasks as much as possible to the machines and take over the diverse side of work, to the benefit of our bodies and minds. And, we should make a conscious effort to design the tasks and their tools to suit us, not to contort and punish our bodies to adapt to the task.
One of the most evident examples is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) among other Work-Related Upper Limb Disorders. Our hands are miraculous mechanisms which can perform the most intricate, diverse and precise manipulations; think of microsurgery. However, give them the same task to do over and over, even tasks for which they are in principle very well suited, and they will develop pathologies such as CTS. This occupational hazard is particularly nasty, because once it occurred it is likely to come again, developing into a chronic illness which makes the individual unfit for work, perhaps on a continuous basis. Our magnificent hands are then not good for much anymore. Pain and stiffness from overuse prevents those suffering from performing the tasks which were previously easy for them. Complacency in adapting tasks and reducing repetitive movements come now to haunt the individual and the employer.
According to a study by Miller TR and Galbraith M (1995), the total direct and indirect costs associated with work related injuries and illnesses are estimated to be $155.5 billion, or nearly 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Biosero, along with our partners, is doing its part to contribute in reducing such repetitive strain injuries. The rotating motion in applying screw caps on microtubes is a particularly hazardous activity done in labs when performed continuously over time. Once pain sets in, the application of the caps becomes variable, compromising not only the operators hands but also the quality of the product. These are typically valuable substances and samples which might leak out in transport because the staff tasked with the capping had a ‘bad wrist’. Microcappers take over the application of the cap on the microtube and the cap tightening by rotation, ensuring a consistent torque to ascertain the quality of the product (XentiQ AutoCap MCF-13 pictured below). They are compact and blend in easily in the work environment, rather than imposing a specific workflow.
Collaboration is key in today’s professional world, we need to create a composite of strengths, since no individual has it all. The same applies also for our tools and devices, where we should pass on tasks which are better done by machines even if we could do them ourselves, to let us focus on our strong points rather than weaken our limbs.
Information Provided By: Ulrich Schraudolph of XentiQ, Pte Ltd
For more information on our Solutions for Repetitive Stress Disorder, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.