SOPs

Optimizing Your Lab For Safety & Efficiency

We’ve all had lab classes at school, but did we ever stop to think twice about the precautions and lab safety procedures in the background?

Introduction

Laboratory classes are often more exciting and involving when compared to generic blackboard teaching, at least according to most people.

It offers a good change of pace from the relatively monotonous address where teachers shoot students with vast chunks of information all at once, with assistance from previously gathered data and visual aids.

On the other hand, lab activities and experiments allow you to be present in the process and appreciate it with your own eyes.

Standard lab tests are more interesting than regular theory sessions and seminars. However, devising a clean and efficient laboratory comes with challenges and hard work. Here is all you need to know about keeping a functional laboratory that is safe and well-equipped.

Who should know this?

Ideally, anyone who enters and uses the equipment or workspace in the labs should know the SOPs and necessary protocols. However, this is being relaxed in most setups and is allowed, provided that there is no serious harm from the equipment, instruments, or chemicals in the particular design. 

In any case, it is still recommended that the students, workers, researchers, etc., should be periodically taught and evaluated for knowledge about the standard SOPs and lab safety rules, irrespective of designation and seriousness of work and procedure. Incorporating such measures and systems at the school level could be a significant change of pace, allowing for an easier transition when they enter into more severe laboratories later in life. 

Knowledge about the possible hazards and how to prevent their occurrence or react to one circumstance is essential, as accidents are prone to happen at any time, and anyone might be forcibly put in a position to deal with them. With adequate knowledge, one can attempt to salvage the situation and prevent further damage, dealing with any adversity in the best possible method and minimising damage as much as possible to both physical and intellectual property.

What defines a lab procedure

Lab procedures can be defined as detailed documents and procedure checklists previously designed by professionals to serve as an outline for safely proceeding with any actions within the laboratory environment. In general, a laboratory procedure instructs your team about what to do and what not to do while on the laboratory premises. It also touches upon the details of the specific credentials and preventive measures to be taken beforehand. 

The instructions provided in the lab procedure descriptions are detailed and specified under each exercise. Every process along the way is described in great detail, with all the critical focus areas. A process can sometimes be regarded as a procedure, provided the approach is at a high level or elaborate. A system, however, can always be included as a process.

In a nutshell, lab procedures are a concrete set of instructions that you should follow precisely at all costs, accurately, and consistently. This is to ensure that you carry out your tasks effectively and safely while within the bounds of the lab. 

Components of a lab procedure

To develop a suitable lab procedure for your laboratory, the first step would be to create a list of all the areas you would like to address in your protocol or instruction manual. In that case, you should create a detailed documentation system with all the theoretical and practical content about your area of study or research. The specified laboratory instructions and protocol can only be constructive when designed to match the team's specific needs using the laboratory. This is about the requirements, preferences, and desired accessibility.

How to build a lab procedure

Only after getting a clear idea of your work process and lab technique can you formulate appropriate lab procedures to carry out necessary activities in the safest and most efficient nature possible. Here are a few classic components of a lab procedure that are to be in any sector, irrespective of the nature of your work process. 

1. Laboratory equipment: Knowledge & safety precautions

This has to be initiated while planning for a laboratory rather than simply while trying to formulate the lab procedure. The simple process of stocking your laboratory has to start only after going through all the necessary details about the available equipment and thoroughly analysing the benefits, disadvantages, profitability, and safety they offer. One can quickly check the details regarding such efficacy and safety concerns in the wide range of environmental health and safety forums, which are available online. 

Browsing across several platforms for details regarding lab equipment can help you save a couple bucks. Apart from providing you with a truckload of information regarding the operational and functional aspects, you might stumble upon rather exciting alternatives which are more acceptable either environment-wise or money-wise. Either way, it is a win-win situation with nothing to complain about. Scribe can also help you here, as it can keep track of all the web pages you navigate.

2. Know your regulations

There are specified guidelines laid down by concerned committees and governing bodies from around the world that mention instructions and criteria that must be taken care of before coming up with the framework of your lab and its functioning. Hence, looking at these details becomes inevitable for effectively developing your research or scientific facility.

A crystal clear picture of all the existing restrictions about your locality and those laid down by your specific department or branch of research. Failure to meet any requirements might result in a considerable loss. Most sectors would simply reject your lab’s functioning as you do not meet the criteria for a good laboratory. Looking at it with laboratory procedure examples should help you understand the idea better.

Human experiments have been considered illegal in a few countries, while it is pretty acceptable in others. In that case, if someone simply unaware of this legislation brings up a full-blown lab for genetic laboratory in a location where it is against the law, it goes to waste. The authoritative body would simply seal off the facility; hence, check with all the guidelines and legislations of your locality.

3. Prepare a detailed account

This report should include all possible activities and procedures undertaken at your laboratory. Depending upon a load of activities or experimental processes in your information, you can use appropriate tools and software to help you along the way. Several agencies like  Scribe help you automate your strategy to the maximum extent, thereby saving you from the taxing aspect of management. 

4. Delegate roles

Once you know the processes to be included in your lab procedure, take your time to recruit competent professionals who would fit the designation. You should pick individuals who are accountable, responsible, and true to what they do. They should also be equipped with full knowledge of all the lab procedures.

5. Have an accident manual

Hazards and accidents are not preventable at any cost, despite taking all the necessary precautions. Hence, preparing a disaster or accident manual beforehand would be ideal to avoid unnecessary panic during a crisis. One can list the things that could go wrong by referring to the process documentation made in Scribe.

Upon identifying possible areas of trouble and their adversities, list the ideal ways to approach the situation.

6. Monitoring & supervision

The workplace requires periodic inspection and straightforward monitoring methods to follow the mentioned protocol properly and adhere to rules. You can easily track your procedures and monitor the practices through automated process documentation with tools like Scribe.

‎‎7. Safe handling 

No matter the work environment, maintaining a certain degree of safety and adhering to the safety protocol is necessary. This ensures the general health and well-being of the workers and those nearby. For example, constant exposure to toxic chemicals might accumulate in the vital organs and manifest as severe complications like systemic illnesses. Hence, every individual must be educated about the possible hazards and necessary measures to be followed while in the workplace to avoid adversities.

8. Update your storage locations

Accessibility is often one of the significant concerns in laboratories around the world. This becomes even more true with large-scale facilities that function with many branches with several; storage units. Once again, documentation is the way to go. Use efficient tools like Scribe to keep track of all your contents and their storage locations. You can simply upload the reports and documents on the common forum so that all your peers can easily access the materials.

Common laboratory procedures

There is often a wide range of safety measures and preventive techniques in the laboratory environment. However, a few examples cannot be avoided at any cost. Here are some of the essential standard procedures worth your attention.

1. Protecting yourself

As selfish as it may sound, one has to stand up for himself first. This becomes more practical and important within the lab setup, in the general everyday sense, and in case of possible hazards. 

As an everyday measure, one has to take care of their personal hygiene and take additional steps to keep oneself free from contamination. This also includes wearing laboratory safety apparel and, in the case of prescribed PPEs.

It is also essential to hold oneself professionally in the laboratory. A lab is no place for jokes and fun, and it is to be established clearly starting from day one.

2. Preparation & training

For your lab workforce to be practically dependable in case of any disaster or accident, ensure you conduct timely drills for safety and accident protocols. 

Apart from the protocol per se, one can also keep practising the procedures independently. However, this has to be under the supervision and with full knowledge of the process. Remembering that one should always work with others in a laboratory is essential.

How Scribe can help you with your lab procedure

At Scribe, our experts have come up with exclusive templates suited for your lap SOPs and other instructions associated with your laboratory's handling and working system.

Added with our aspect of process documentation and automation, all you have to do is simply turn on Scribe while you work, and we can take care of the rest.

Using helpful support tools like Scribe while you formulate your lab procedure can help you save a great deal of time, as it completely takes over the process of management and organisation, all while keeping track of all the actions and events in the forum.

With pre-defined templates to guide your process, you're also provided with an additional safety check.

The templates help you take care of all the necessary dimensions of your lab without accidentally missing out on any branch. Especially with laboratories, one must avoid making such mistakes, as they would often end up paying a massive price to both your equipment and your workforce.

Scribe also helps you keep a thorough record of all the necessary details crucial for the lab's functioning.

This starts from the primary information regarding the founding rules, extending to the personal data of the members who work within the laboratory. With all your records being managed at a particular location, it is also straightforward to update new information and change outdated info regularly.

Conclusion

To wrap up, it is evident from the above information that the aspect of; ab safety is to be taken seriously.

Regardless of the sector or field, you work in, you must adhere to the rules and restrictions laid down by your workplace.

Especially with scientific aspects and chemicals in the picture, failure to comply with something trivial like wearing goggles just because of a minor aesthetic inconvenience might end up causing undesirable outcomes as severe as blindness. Hence, take your lab procedure seriously, and make an effort to bring your lab to impeccable safety and efficiency.