Something that every researcher/lab owner must imbibe in their laboratory
The safety of the people shall be the highest law – Marcus Tullius Cicero
With the advancements made in science and technology, chemistry has helped to enhance our apprehension of the physical and biological aspects of everything in the world.
We have also mastered the art of manipulating it through synthetic or natural chemical processing. And in the process, we have even risked our lives to quench our thirst of curiosity.
Earlier, injuring yourself or jeopardizing your safety was acceptable for the sake of great inventions and discoveries through lab experiments.
But the thought seems unrealistic today, as we have developed techniques to handle chemicals in a safe environment.
In one such instance of our laboratory fume hood installation, for a pharmaceutical client, we were asked to create fume hoods which were strong enough to ensure safety for technicians working in the lab after a near-miss incident.
While designing the lab, we realized that:
The laboratory’s air volume features could sync with the digital control mechanisms such as motion detectors to reduce air-changes per hour (ACH).
For this, Vanguard’s supply air technology was installed to lower the total exhaust air volume by 40% in comparison with conventional chemical fume hoods.
The supply air technology protects the lab workers from containment risk with fume hoods when they stand or move in front of the hoods
The Vanguard technology contributes significantly to energy saving in the lab resulting in faster ROI (return on investment)
Today, lab owners and institutions of chemical laboratories are accountable for the safety of lab workers by providing a safe working environment in compliance with the local, state or national government bodies.
At the pharmaceutical lab, we shared a few tips with lab users during lab testing and user training services to maintain a laboratory safety standard.
Through these tips, we aimed to help them to cultivate basic attributes so that safety would be considered as an indispensable part of the lab.
Following are a few excerpts of the tips which will enable you to accomplish safety goals for your lab:
- Start from the top of the funnel:
For the first step in building a safety culture, you need to start from the top-level management program. Strong leadership ensures the effective safety culture to follow through. It flows to the managers and supervisors and workers.
- Make people conscious about safety:
Spreading awareness is a time-consuming activity, and it happens gradually. As a lab manager or a supervisor, you need to instruct, teach, highlight and emphasize the importance of a safe lab culture, which will eventually imbibe into their daily practice.
We always insist on our clients to:
Label, label, and label all kinds of dangerous materials in the lab, along with instructions on the furniture as well.
If you are keeping hazardous chemicals in the underbench cabinets, then you might want to label the cabinet as well.
You can even reward safe practices carried out by employees to encourage a positive attitude and develop safe habits.
- Conduct periodic training sessions:
Link your training sessions with spreading awareness about safety. You already know that laboratories are unique and intricate workplaces. So, training sessions are of the essence. Avoid settling for minimum bars of safety regulations.
For example, you should NEVER store apparatus or hazardous chemicals in the fume hood for a long time.
- Learn from experiences:
It is evident that humankind is a race which has evolved with experiences. We have learned from our mistakes and try that we do not repeat them. It’s the same phenomenon in a lab environment. Investigate and follow up for accidents and near misses.
You can create case studies from the same and share it with fellow employees. It will gain their interest, and they’ll start making a conscious effort to improve safety procedures and avoid these instances.
We documented the near-miss incident at the pharmaceutical lab and shared it as a part of the training module, along with a demonstration.
TIP: Invest in an efficient Lab Ventilation System (LVS), which is designed to limit the potential damage caused by chemicals to lab users. Check out more here!
- Cooperate and communicate:
Try to involve as many employees as possible. You can do this by forming safety committees. Ask them to conduct periodic meetings to develop new safety procedures.
To develop a habit, we need to perform it every day. Similarly, constant promotion is required to create a robust safety culture. For that, you need to communicate incidents of failures and preventions for setting an example.
Being one of the leading laboratory fume hood and laboratory furniture manufacturers in India, we understand the long-term health concerns of lab employees.
The pointers mentioned above are a part of a continual activity by which you can develop a strong culture of safety.
But how to execute them?
We’re listing down a few ground rules that you, as a supervisor or a manager, can implement in your lab.
Wear a proper lab uniform and protective gears (such as safety glasses, gloves, lab coat, etc.) at all times during work.
Store hazardous materials in an organised manner
Ask and encourage lab employees to raise queries related to safety.
Review and monitor hazardous chemicals, equipment and procedures used during the experiment.
Rectify compliance issues or poor work practices immediately before it causes harm to the workers.
Dispose of lab waste properly.
Buy the necessary safety equipment.
The actions taken by you will reinforce your message of bringing a safety culture.
In a recent laboratory accident in Bengaluru, five scientists had sustained serious injuries due to an explosion during some chemical analysis. We bet none of us want to be in that position ever.
Laboratories are not the only premises when it comes to workplace accidents. Accidents in large manufacturing facilities, factories have been more devastating. But with the help of proper guidance and suggestions related to laboratory safety, you can develop a strong culture of safety.
Research by OSHA states that strong safety culture in the organizations have fewer risk behaviours, lower accident rates and absenteeism, resulting in higher productivity.
That’s exactly what you want for your lab, right?
If you are expanding your lab or building a new one, check out how we can help you to safeguard employees and laboratories. lab from chemical hazards or click here to learn more about Vanguard!