Scanning and Processing Biological Specimens

Task
A lab technician holds the scanner in the right hand while lifting and turning a urine specimen cup with the left hand, then scans the barcode on the side of the container, and finally replaces the urine sample in the crate.

Problem
The repetitive hand pinching due to urine specimen handling, awkward neck posturing during scanning, and moment forces on the wrist and shoulder while holding the scanner are biomechanical risks.

Intervention
A wireless long and short range table-top barcode scanner would help to alleviate some of the risk factors . This lightweight portable scanner can be placed almost anywhere, allowing the technician to sit instead of stand. The scanner does not need to be held.

Cost
Estimated US $800.

Evaluation of Intervention

  • Pros
  • Removes the weight of the scanner from hand, thus decreasing likelihood of wrist and shoulder problems
  • Limits downward neck flexion and low back pain because the technicians can now sit down
  • Triggerless scanner will eliminate repetitive finger flexion
  • Cons
  • Technicians may still need to use handheld scanners for those specimens located in refrigerators
  • Workers will have to be retrained
  • Barcode changes must be implemented

Semi-Quantitative Evaluation of Intervention

  • Reduction of Identified Risk Factor
  • No New Risk Factors Introduced
  • Productivity not Reduced
  • Low Cost
  • Total
  • 3/5
  • 5/5
  • 5/5
  • 4/5
  • 17/20

Other Possible Interventions

  • Crate design so all barcodes are visible
  • Adjustable Height Workstation
  • Better Barcode Placement on Specimen
  • W1/FI specimen coding

Acknowledgements
Submitted by Dorit Betschart (UCSF) and Allison Medellin (UC Berkeley)