Ergonomics in the anaesthetic workplace | Association of Anaesthetists

Ergonomics in the anaesthetic workplace


Ergonomics in relation to anaesthesia is the scientific study of the interaction between anaesthetists and their workspace environment in order to promote safety, performance and well-being. The foundation for avoiding pain or discomfort at work is to adopt and maintain a good posture, whether sitting or standing. Anaesthetists should aim to keep their posture as natural and neutral as possible. The successful practice of anaesthesia relies on optimisation of ergonomics and lack of attention to detail in this area is associated with impaired performance. The anaesthetic team should wear comfortable clothing, including appropriately-sized personal protective equipment where necessary. Temperature, humidity and light should be adequate at all times. The team should comply with infection prevention and control guidelines and monitoring as recommended by the Association of Anaesthetists. Any equipment or machinery that is mobile should be positioned where it is easy to view or reach without having to change the body or head position significantly when interacting with it. Patients who are supine should, whenever possible, be raised upwards to limit the need to lean towards them. Any item required during a procedure should be positioned on trays or trolleys that are close to the dominant hand. Pregnancy affects the requirements for standing, manually handling, applying force when operating equipment or moving machines and the period over which the individual might have to work without a break. Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disability in the workplace. Any member of staff with a physical impairment needs to be accommodated and this includes making provision for a wheelchair user who needs to enter the operating theatre and perform their work.