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Pipetting and purchasing

Extensive pipetting increases the risk of developing a repetitive strain injury (RSI). Purchasing the right pipette can improve efficiency and reduce the risk of injury.

Below is a list of key ergonomic factors to consider when purchasing new pipettes.

Please contact ergonomics.info@ubc.ca if you require assistance.

Electronic pipettes

Electronic pipettes
  • Recommended if pipetting >2hrs/day
  • Benefits include reduced force and repetition

When purchasing an electronic pipette look for ones that have an adjustable finger support, allow multi-finger involvement (e.g. index finger trigger), electronic tip ejection and auto-dispense.

Low aspiration and dispensing force

Pipette trigger force

When purchasing manual pipettes look for ones with low trigger force to reduce the risk of injury.

Frequent repetition with a manual pipette, particularly one that requires high trigger force, can strain the thumb musculature and result in an increased risk of injury.

Low tip insertion force

Pipette low tip insertion force

Ineffective tip insertion can result in tips falling off or staff using excessive force to secure the tips. Purchasing pipettes that require only light force and provide feedback of successful tip insertion reduce the risk of injury and improve efficiency.


  • Reduced hand/arm force to secure tips
  • Reduced hand/arm force when ejecting tips
  • Reduced risk of tips falling off and inadvertent sample loss

Adjustable spacing multi-channel pipettes

Multi channel pipette

Multi-channel pipettes tend to be heavier and have higher tip insertion/tip ejection forces; however, they can significantly reduce the number of repetitions.

When purchasing a multi-channel pipette look for low tip insertion force and electronic options.

Multi-channel pipettes with adjustable spacing allow staff to move liquid between wells of different sizes and thus significantly reduce the number of repetitions required which will reduce the risk of injury and improve efficiency.

Alternative arm position

Improved wrist posture pipette

Some pipettes have been specifically designed to promote a more neutral arm and wrist posture. This design may also improve accuracy.


Pipettes provided courtesy of ThermoFisher. Wells provided courtesy of VWR International. Alternative posture pipette provided by VistaLab.

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