Microscope Ergonomics

Awkward postures when using a microscope can be very common. This is especially true if the microscope, chair and work surface are not ideally adjustable and/or the user does not understand how and why to make adjustments to the workstation. Like any job task, when using a microscope it is important to adjust the microscope and arrange the workstation correctly to fit the body.

Microscope Workstation Setup

  1. Adjust the chair height appropriately
    • The feet should be firmly supported on a foot rest which is ideally height adjustable. Avoid relying on the foot ring/rail around the chair.
    • The elbows should be close to the body (~90° angle) with the upper back, neck and shoulder relaxed.
  2. Adjust the work surface height (if adjustable) to allow for a neutral elbow posture with the elbows close to the body (~90° angle).
  3. Ensure adequate leg clearance. Often times the work surface is too thick which creates leg obstructions which forces the chair too low and the work surface too high. Remove leg obstructions or false fronts to improve leg clearance.
  4. Use forearm support pads. Avoid resting the elbows or forearms on the desktop.
  5. When purchasing microscopes, obtain models that have adjustable eyepieces (extension option and angle adjustment).
  6. Take regular breaks, every 30 minutes or so (approximately). Avoid long durations of microscope work.
  7. Rotate job tasks with other employees.
  8. Keep the head and neck in a neutral posture.
    • Pull the scope closer
    • Adjust the chair and/or workstation height
    • Adjust the microscope and/or the eyepieces
  9. Use computer projection systems or televisions to minimize or replace microscope tasks which are intensive and performed for long durations.


Contact CSU’s Ergonomics Coordinator