A clinical lab can be a dangerous place. Lab users face various dangers working in a location with biohazards. Using personal protective equipment and standard precautions correctly is vital for lab user safety. Maintaining a methodical and uncluttered workspace and using disinfection best practices are vital. A chaotic environment in areas infected with biohazards threatens visitor and employee security. Experts from our medical shipping services offer the following tips for a safe and clean laboratory:
General safety tips
Lab managers should audit the biological setting to identify lab-specific safety hazards at least once a month. Changes in a lab are familiar, like stocking and movement of lab supplies, new equipment placement, and relocation of instruments. The implications of these changes to lab safety need to be examined.
When determining the safety of the physical environment, make sure aisles are free from obstructions, particularly when they lead to evacuation routes. You should tie up keyboard and computer wires, regularly clean lab floors, and replace anti-fatigue mats periodically to avoid potential accidents. Use scrapers or other tools to ensure no paraffin wax build-up on walkways to prevent falls. Confirm that fire extinguishers, showers, eyewash stations, and other safety equipment remain accessible. Guarantee easy access to chemical spill and bloodborne pathogen response kits. Three feet of clearance should always be in front of department electrical panels. Inspect electric cords for damages like fraying to avoid lab fires. All compressed gas tanks should remain secured for tipping prevention.
Ensure clean and organized workbenches free of unlabeled materials that might present unknown chemical hazards, infectious materials, and contaminated sharps. Dust regularly to eliminate molds and other contaminants that may interfere with lab tests, especially in a microbiology lab. Avoid using fans that might circulate pollutants or interfere with safety airflow devices.
Protocols for disinfection
Lab benches should remain organized and be disinfected with an intermediate-level germicide after every shift and when spills occur because of biohazardous materials. You can use a 10 percent bleach solution or lab cleaning products available for purchase. Use care choosing commercial products to ensure they can eliminate all fungi and most bacteria and inactivate viruses. Products that do not meet these standards will put your staff at risk of infection. In addition, it is essential to use products with advanced potency to handle the disinfection of the entire lab.
Some instruments require specific cleaners because bleach solutions can harm them. The cleaning solutions may not effectively control biohazards and should not be used for other purposes. Always be aware and adhere to contact time for disinfectants to be effective. Disinfection does not happen immediately, so the product should remain on surfaces for the proper amount of time recommended by
the manufacturer. It can take 3 to 4 minutes for adequate disinfection in some cases. Educating lab users on contact times is critical to avoid a potential lab-acquired infection. Regular disinfection and cleaning of other lab surfaces like pens, timers, computers, phones, and chairs are crucial.