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The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
A clinical laboratory is a dangerous place because it contains hazardous chemicals and equipment. Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and observing the standard precautions can go a long way in ensuring the safety of the lab technicians/scientists.
Maintaining and orderly environment and deploying the best disinfection procedures are also important. A disorganized workplace cluttered with biohazards is a threat to both the visitors and the employees.
Here are the five steps you can take to ensure your lab is safe and clean.
You should carry out regular audits to the physical environment of your laboratory to identify and correct any safety hazards that might arise from time to time. Many changes occur in the labs. These changes may include the installation of new equipment, movements of materials and instruments, or even stocking and movement of supplies.
You have to consider the implications of these changes on the safety and cleanliness in the lab. For example, when installing new equipment, ensure they don’t cause any obstruction to the safety exits like fire evacuation doors.
Check for any loose wire from keyboards, computers, or any lab equipment and tie them properly. Your lab floor should be cleaned regularly and kept dry at all times. You need to install a scroll vacuum pump to ensure your lab is always free from unwanted gases.
Laboratories contain many biohazardous materials. These materials, if not handled well, can cause health problems. That explains why disinfection should be a regular activity in the lab, especially in the labs that deal with infectious materials such as viruses or bacteria.
All the laboratory tables and benches should be disinfected after use and after any spillage. While disinfecting the lab, use a germicide like a 10% bleach solution for this purpose.
You also need to wipe and disinfect chairs, computers, telephones, windows, pens, etc. Some electrical appliances have specific liquids used to clean them. So you have to check the manufacturer’s instructions before you clean or disinfect some electrical appliances.
Accidents such as spills of biohazardous materials or chemicals do occur in the labs. In the worst cases, there can be explosions and fires. The question you need to ask yourself is what measures you’ve put in place to deal with the accidents should they occur.
For example, how would you handle a spill of body fluid or blood? Do you have a spill kit with absorbents? How do you store chemical reagents and samples? The bottom line here is to anticipate an accident before it occurs.
On the dress code, set a clear policy for your employees. All the employees with long hair should tie them at the back, and those with dangling or loose clothing should secure them well. In fact, no employee should wear such attire in the lab.
All employees should wear PPE while in the lab to be safe from the hazards. They should wear face shields when handling chemicals, heat, glassware, hazardous materials, and equipment. And when handling toxic materials, they need to wear gloves.
All laboratories must contain some electrical equipment. So, come up with rules on handling electrical equipment to prevent their misuse. Check all the electrical equipment and ensure they are in good working condition. Also, ensure your sockets, plugs, and cords are working.
All lab employees should get permission from the lab supervisor before using any high voltage equipment. All the electrical equipment should never be modified or changed in any way, and the electrical panels should be easily accessible and unobstructed.
All your employees should wear goggles where there are lasers. They should also not keep their heads at the same level as the laser beams. The laser beam should never be allowed to spread in the lab, and no one should walk through their paths.
Even with the most stringent safety procedures and rules, common sense still matters a lot while operating in the lab. All employees need to have the right qualification and training to handle the laboratory tools and equipment. They should also use their common sense to guarantee their safety and that of their colleagues.
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