3 Essential Practices To Stay Safe As A Laboratory Technician

Two focuses of my blog are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and Health/Wellness. While a lot of important work gets done in research labs, there are a lot of potential health hazards as well. A major component of science is thus laboratory safety. The following contributed post is entitled, 3 Essential Practices To Stay Safe As A Laboratory Technician.

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Safe lab practices are essential and shouldn’t be compromised on, as a lab is generally a hazardous place that requires utmost attention and a focus on protection. In 2019, 40% of lab researchers and technicians admitted to not wearing PPE at all times. The slightest error or lack of judgment can result in irreparable damage and even death. How can you ensure that your actions or inactions don’t put you or your colleagues at risk? Read further for details.

1. Proper storage containers

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Due to the varied composition of solvents and other compounds, every chemical in the lab must be kept in appropriate storage containers. For example, it’s not recommended to store organic solvents in plastic containers. Acids should also never be stored in metal containers; neither should HF be kept in glass because it reacts with sodium silicate (the main component in glass) and causes it to corrode.

The reason for proper storage of these compounds and chemicals is to eliminate a hazardous reaction in a close unit such as a lab. It’s a safety measure to protect the lab technicians and others who work within the same space.

Furthermore, flammable chemicals must be handled with extreme precautions. That explains why most labs keep large volumes of such combustible substances in fire-rated cabinets. Lab handlers must also do well to keep acids and caustics apart; they must be placed in isolated cabinets or cupboards with plastic lining. The plastic acts as a buffer against any escaped vapor that may react with any metal element within the cabinet.

2. Quality waste disposal systems

As discussed in the previous list item, proper chemical storage is critical, and that flows into how these chemicals are disposed of as well. The approved method of waste disposal is to have them stored in safe non-reactive bins. An alternative is to use waste bins with a non-reactive inner lining. More importantly, every lab must invest in a hazardous waste removal service to comply with the United States legislation on Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals.

3. Protective garment usage in the lab

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Known as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), these refer to goggles, lab coats, nose masks, gloves, and any other garment intended for self-protection in a laboratory. This includes long pants and footwear that completely covers the lower body and feet. Because of the likelihood of spills and splashes within the lab, you’re better off protecting yourself from biological and chemical agents.

Did you know that some chemical spills on the body can start a chain reaction to developing cancer in the long term? These are substances known to have delayed carcinogenic effects in humans. For instance, medical research indicates that asbestos inhalation can cause lung cancer in the long term. In other instances, chemical inhalation can travel into the bloodstream and cause Leukaemia many years after initial exposure.

The lab environment is a critical area that demands utmost caution at all times. Without these safety measures, it’ll be even more dangerous to choose an occupation requiring physical presence in a lab.

How Can You Stop Your Lab From Landing Negative Results

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and STEM. Medical labs are critical pieces in the healthcare industry as they help doctors understand the maladies that their patients face. Just like academic and industrial labs, it’s important to still do quality science. Doing so will assure continued business. The following contributed post is entitled, How Can You Stop Your Lab From Landing Negative Results.

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Medical labs are the backbone of the healthcare industry. From the development of new medications to the diagnosis of conditions; it all starts and ends in innocuous-seeming labs just like yours. As such, most of us have come to hold entrepreneurs within this industry in high esteem. Still, assuming this positive industry reputation will save your lab would be naive. Life-saving heroics aside, medical labs are as liable as any business to stumble into difficulties and even face failure.

If your lab-provider relationships keep turning negative, then, you may soon face issues. Instead of moving forward with misplaced ideas about saving the world, you need to address why things are going wrong. We understand that this can feel like a distraction from your ‘higher purpose’, but failure to get to the bottom of this will stop you from saving lives down the line.

That’s why you need to keep reading to find out how you can turn those negative results into a positive that saves your lab’s life.

Store samples properly

Collecting samples from patients can be a time-consuming and expensive process for medical professionals. If you carelessly ruin the integrity of said samples by failing to store them properly, it’s no wonder you aren’t making any friends.

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It’s incredible how easy it is to contaminate or ruin results by getting this simple point of your processes wrong. What’s more, there is no one-size-fits-all standard for how you should and shouldn’t treat each test that comes your way.

Of course, there are some basic staples, such as a lab refrigerator from Rollex Group and companies like them. You should also be sure to keep vials well-sealed, and within uncontaminated areas. For some things, though, such as specific blood tests and skin samples, even more specialist storage will be necessary.

Whatever you do, never play guessing games when it comes to this. Everytime something unknown comes into your lab, do thorough research into which storage processes you should put in place. If in doubt, it’s even worth asking the healthcare professional who’s sending it your way. Better that than risk making a mistake and having to come crawling later on. Once you have some idea, make notes. That way, you’ll always be able to implement proper storage processes for repeat samples down the line.

Implement a team who work well

There’s no getting around it; qualified lab technicians can be downright expensive to employ. The role requires intense training, after all, and the best teams are those who have a fair few years of experience working within the industry.

To save costs, though, it’s tempting to hire inexperienced staff who are fresh out of the classroom. And, guess what? This could be another fatal flaw for your lab’s success. Of course, all new graduates have to start somewhere, and taking on college-leavers could even work if you leave experienced members of your team to train them.

If your team solely consists of cheap and inexperienced team members, though, you’re fast heading for trouble. In this instance, you would be far better off hiring less staff with more experience. That way, you can balance costs and still enjoy results you can trust in.

It’s also worth noting that your team needs to have decent teamwork structures in place if your lab is to see any real success. A lab team have to collaborate on everything from test times to results across the board, after all. If your employees aren’t talking, things are never going to come together, and clients will never get the results they expect.

Make sure, then, that your team understands the importance of talking to each other about what they’re doing. You could even arrange a few group team working activities to bring the point home.

Speed up your processes

Whether your lab focuses around diagnostics or research, slow processes are never going to work in your favour. If you have a healthcare professional waiting on results, delays mean that they look bad in front of patients. You can bet that they wouldn’t hesitate about turning to a more trustworthy lab as a result. Equally, excessive delays from a research perspective could see the findings you’re working on or similar being released by another lab in the interim.

Of course, speeding things up is never worthwhile at the detriment of your work. A rushed research study is evident from a mile off and will never buy you the respect that you need. Still, it is possible to quicken your processes without compromising your work.

We’ve already mentioned the importance of teamwork. That alone can go a long way towards making sure everyone works faster with the information they need. The correct equipment, too, can speed processes no end. And, of course, a system which sends results straight to healthcare computers could lessen lost time at the end of your research. All while ensuring results land straight into the correct inboxes in no time.

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Make sure your insurance is inclusive

Lastly, lacking insurance policies could become significant nails in your lab coffin if you aren’t careful. The fact is that you’re dealing with lives, not just faceless samples. Everything you do (or don’t do) can create a ripple effect. And, this is what your insurance policy needs to account for.

If a doctor ends up getting sued for a misdiagnosis off the back of your test results, for example, you need to ensure that you have the correct malpractice and liability insurance in place. Mistakes happen, and results don’t always get things right. Still, this would ruin relationships anyway if a healthcare provider had to foot the bill due to your lacking insurance policies. Make sure, then, that you implement the correct insurance at all times, and keep your plans updated.

Negative results aren’t something we embrace in any lab, especially when they’re of this kind. Make sure that you’re able to turn things around as soon as possible to bring much higher levels of success to your lab door.

Maximizing Your Laboratory Spend

A key focus of my blog is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Whether you’re running a lab in academia, in industry or in some sort of government capacity a key consideration are the amounts being spent to accomplish the mission. Labs that are run wisely tend to stay open longer than those that aren’t. The following contributed post is entitled, Maximizing Your Laboratory Spend.

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It does not matter what sort of laboratory you own or run, one of your most important tasks will be to maximize your spend. After all, labs do not have unlimited budgets, and so they need to make sure that their funds are being put to best use. There are a number of different ways you can do this, so read on for some critical information.

Identifying whether to buy – There is only one place to begin, and this is by identifying whether to buy. Of course, there are going to be somethings, like basic instruments and testing materials, like synthetic urine, which are simply a necessity. However, there are other items that are considered nice-to-have, rather than being a necessity. Therefore, you really need to think about whether you should buy this equipment, or whether leasing would be better. When you consider the rapid pace of technological innovations today, you could easily buy something and then it could become outdated very quickly. This is why it is a good idea to consider leasing in a lot of circumstances. Nevertheless, if you know the equipment is going to be used again and again, buying could be just the thing you need.

Compare prices and suppliers carefully – There are many different tools online today that enable you to compare products across all industries, and the same goes when it comes to laboratory equipment. Nevertheless, you still need to be careful when you purchase. You should make the effort to ensure that all of the suppliers you are considering are 100 per cent legitimate. The last thing you want is to end up falling victim to a fraud company who either does not supply the products at all or does not supply lab-grade equipment. Doing a bit of digging and reading reviews that have been left by others are both essential steps.

Look for ways to reduce spend without taking any risks – The final piece of the puzzle is to look for different ways that you can save some money without taking a risk in terms of the quality of your equipment and your supplies. There are a number of different ways that you can go about this. For example, you can simply try to negotiate with your vendor. This is more successful than a lot of people realise. In addition to this, you should find out whether there are any discounts for group purchases or bulk buys, as this can lead to significant savings overall.

We hope that this blog post has assisted you when it comes to maximizing laboratory spend. There is no denying that money management is critical for any business but when you are involved in something as vital as lab work, there is heightened importance on making sure you maximize your funds. Use the tips provided above to make sure that this is the case.

Don’t Be A Mad Scientist: Avoid These Stupid Lab Mistakes

One of the focuses of my blog is awareness of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. If you’re in a STEM and are working in a laboratory setting, it’s particularly important for novices to understand how to properly conduct one’s self. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Don’t Be A Mad Scientist: Avoid These Stupid Lab Mistakes.

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It doesn’t matter which of the basic sciences you are working in; common sense needs to be your number one priority. Science is about creating answers, not mistakes, but if in your folly you make any of those stupid lab blunders, then you are going to create both chaos to your experiments and put yourself at risk of accident and injury. Yikes!

Mistake #1: Mislabelling something

You’re not an idiot; you have trained in your field, so you will know what most things are. But then again, you may have lacked concentration and mislabelled a test tube, or you may not quite know the difference from a certain chemical from another, especially if they look the same. The wrong combination could result in something calamitous, be that a failed experiment, or something far more explosive. Therefore, don’t assume you know what something is without doing some research first, and for goodness sake, concentrate when you’re labelling, for the sake of everybody working with you.

Mistake #2: Using faulty equipment

You aren’t going to get the desired results if your equipment isn’t up to scratch. Not only can you create a chemical disaster if something is leaking where it shouldn’t be, but you will be forced to start your experiment again if you have used something as simple as an uncalibrated pipette. Always check your equipment beforehand, and if you need to buy something new, or if you need to call on the expertise of someone like this pipette repair service, then do so.

Mistake #3: Wearing your lab coat out of the lab

Who knows what nasty stuff has gathered on your lab coat during your experiments! The last thing you want to do is take that troublesome gook out of the lab and into the cafeteria or the outside world, as you may cause significant harm to another. Remember to wash your coat too, no matter how much you like the pretty colours that have accumulated!

Mistake #4: Not wearing your protective gear

You are dealing with acids, chemicals, and other toxic substances. You are touching them, surrounding yourself with them, and bearing your beady eyes down upon them. We know we shouldn’t have to say this, but we will anyway. Always wear your safety gear! Letting any kind of toxic formula get into your eyes, onto your skin, or into your nasal passageway, could be tantamount to personal disaster. Make it a rule to have what you need to hand as you enter the lab, so you don’t forget to put on what you need to be wearing.

Mistake #5: Having your lunch in the science lab

You may as well be swigging from a test tube! There is a place to eat your lunch, and that’s nowhere near your workbench. In fact, you should be out of the lab and at your designated eating area. You don’t want to poison yourself by letting even the smallest amount of a chemical touch your food, even if you have washed your hands like a good boy after taking off your gloves. And who knows what might happen if you let any of your cheese sandwich fall into your experiment. You could destroy the world! Or, at the very least, your experiment!!

In all things, practice common sense. You might look like a mad scientist, but that doesn’t mean you have to behave like one! Take care if you are in the lab today, and thanks for reading.