Workplace Ergonomics for Anesthesia Professionals

Ergonomics is the study of the physical interaction between humans and their work environment.  The anesthesia work environment offers unique challenges due to ergonomic wellness because of some equipment is fixed in its location, creating difficulties when mobility would be advantageous. 

There is often comparison to a "cockpit" arrangement, such that the patient and equipment should all be within reach of the anesthesia provider.  Unlike airline pilots, an anesthesia provider engages in sitting, standing and walking.  The "cockpit" arrangement must allow for these varied situations, as well as the performance of procedures, such as spinal anesthetics.  In the case of a spinal, the patient will be in a lateral or sitting position.  The zone of reach or rather the distance between the anesthesia provider and the devices and/or materials must be considered.  
The ergonomics of anesthesia must take into account the mental as well as physical stressors associated with the job.  Unfortunately, ergonomics is an area of anesthesia that has received little attention and should be addressed through more education and training for workplace wellness.  
What Can You Do?

Each and every one of you can make a difference by advocating for a well workplace and/or bringing awareness of well-being to where you work - see What Can you Do about workplace wellness.


 Articles and information


Links to a selection of articles and information related to ergonomics and anesthesia:


 Take a stretch break


AANA NewsBulletin article, Maximizing Your Work Time to Prevent Injury, features  10 Simple Stretches

Mayo Clinic provides some helpful stretches to relieve back strain and tension.  Practiced on a regular basis these can help prevent built up stress and injuries: 

Although these are depicted as an office setting, these stretches can be done in any workplace. Enjoy!

 Moving patients

Healthy ergonomics is not only where you sit or stand to work, anesthesia professionals are also involved in moving patients. See National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH): 

 Tips from CRNAs

  • For maximum neck comfort, adjust the vertical position of the screen. To find the ideal, sit comfortably in your chair, close both eyes and relax, then slowly reopen. Position screen where your gaze initially focuses. Martha Kral, CRNA
  • Freezing cold in the OR? Buy a chargeable warming vest that stays warm for up to 8 hours! Order a waist wrap cooling wrap for warm blooded colleagues. Debbie Barber, CRNA