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Improving Your Working Posture and Work Environment, In the School of ErgoPractice®, Part 3

ErgoPractice News – August 2014
By Jin Chang PhD

Sophisticated technologies for patient care have been developing at a blazingly fast pace and have significantly improved the quality of patients’ lives. However, the rooms in which these procedures take place remain fundamentally unchanged for clinicians (dentists, surgeons, and veterinarians). According to Dr. F. Jacob Seagull, (Professor and Director of Patient Safety & Quality Leadership Scholars Program, Department of Medical Education, University of Michigan Medical School), a surgeon’s work environment and working conditions are often harsher than those of an industrial worker.1

A stressful work environment can lead to fatigue, pain, and even long-term injury. Surgical techniques may even suffer due to the fatigue and pain of a clinician as they are distracted or even rushing to finish the procedure. These working environments can be significantly improved with new and innovative tools such as next-generation loupes and headlights. These tools are already available if you are willing to break the chains of an established routine and improve your working environment, and thus your daily working life. Many clinicians have already significantly improved their working posture and environment with SurgiTel’s ergonomic loupes and headlights. To improve your working posture and environment follow these three steps.

First: Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Is my working posture ergonomically correct? By taking a video or photos of your working posture, you can easily answer this question. Ideally, your head tilt should be less than 20-degrees.
  • Is my operating illumination ergonomically correct? By balancing the brightness of overhead light against your headlight, you will easily find an optimum brightness of the overhead light which reduces the fatigue of your eyes and helps you see details of objects better. You may turn off the overhead light, using the room light for background, and use the headlight as your primary illumination – this could improve your visual acuity.
  • Am I utilizing the features of the operating table or the patient chair to work comfortably? If you are not using the available features to best adjust each patient, try them!

Second: You should seek ergonomically correct tools, including loupes and headlights.

In order to find ergonomically correct loupes, you should be willing to evaluate various loupe types rather than just purchasing the same style loupes which your peers are using. Different facial features may need different style loupes. For example, Through-The-Lens (TTL) loupes fit people with high noses better, but oculars of TTL loupes may be too close to the eyes of clinicians who have low noses. Front-Lens-Mounted (FLM) loupes may better fit people with low noses.

Third: Call upon senior clinicians who have experience with various loupes.

They will share their experiences with you which may help you select the right loupes with effective declination angles. The declination angle is the key ergonomic factor in selecting loupes.2 I interviewed Dr. Raymond Singer who is the Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Associate Medical Director of the Lehigh Valley Hospital Network Regional Heart and Vascular Center.3 He has been a pioneer in utilizing next-generation custom loupes and in optimizing his visual acuity in the operating room by balancing the appropriate use of traditional overhead lights with loupe-mounted headlights. Also, he has been using a loupe-mounted digital video camera to record and share his surgical procedures. Dr. Singer’s interview may answer many of your questions and help you improve your working posture and environment, Click Here to read.

During the last 20 years SurgiTel has created key tools for the ergonomic practice of dentistry and surgery. SurgiTel products have helped many clinicians practice dentistry or surgery pain-free worldwide. As a part of ergonomic education, SurgiTel started publication of the ErgoPractice News starting June 2013, Click Here to view all articles. In this publication, we have reviewed advances made in loupes and headlights, principles of clinical illumination, requirements of custom loupes, blue light hazards of cool LED lights, and key factors for selecting the right loupes for the individual. Using our ErgoPractice News, several clinicians have shared their stories about their chronic neck pain developed with traditional loupes and how they were able to alleviate or eliminate their pain with SurgiTel ergonomic loupes.

If you have peers who are working in pain, advise them to subscribe to our newsletter. Or sign up yourself and forward the information to them. There is no excuse for anyone to work another day in pain. Working together, we can bring attention to these risks and make all of our workplaces safer and more productive.

  1. Seagull, F. Jacob. “Disparities Between Industrial and Surgical Ergonomics.” Work 41 (2012): 4669–72.
  2. Chang, Jin. “Declination Angle as the Key Ergonomic Factor: SurgiTel Dental Loupes.” SurgiTel. SurgiTel, April 1, 2014.
  3. Chang, Jin, and Raymond Singer. Utilizing Next-Generation Vision-Aid Products for the Ergonomic Practice of Surgery: An Interview with Dr. Raymond Singer. Other. SurgiTel. SurgiTel, August 17, 2016.