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How to Add Value to Your Lab During Work-at-Home Orders

The COVID-19 pandemic has had extreme impacts on all facets of our lives and businesses. The measures taken by the government and employers to reduce the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in all of us trying to adapt to these news rules of engagement. This new reality has taken many professionals out of the labs and into the home office. For laboratory workers and support staff, it can be challenging to generate value for your lab if you’re not in it. Use this time to work on more strategic initiatives or projects that take greater planning to implement. Here are some initiatives that laboratory support staff can tackle while away from the lab.

Chemical Inventory

A chemical inventory program can be one of the hardest laboratory support programs to build, launch, and maintain because of the amount of data involved and the number of people interacting with the program. If you do not have a robust program in place, a shutdown is a good opportunity to research how to develop and implement a chemical inventory program. If you have a program in place, it is also a good opportunity to evaluate how well it is performing and if any gaps exist. To learn more about evaluating your chemical inventory program during a shutdown, read this blog post.

SDS Management

Have you migrated your safety data sheets (SDSs) to an online platform yet? In today’s laboratories, electronic access to SDSs is a much more effective strategy for complying with OSHA right-to-know regulations. The lab workforce is computer-savvy and has access to the web the labs and office areas, and the automation of collecting and storing SDSs online also makes it easier to stay in compliance. If you haven’t yet migrated to an online platform, this can be an opportunity to make the leap. If you have an online platform, use this time to evaluate the performance of the system and the relevant processes in place. 

Training Plans

Lab personnel need a variety of EHS training to work safely and effectively in today’s lab environments. Staying on top of all of the training requirements can be a challenge and an imperfect science in a growing lab in which the headcount and research are constantly changing. Use a shutdown to create a training matrix that outlines the training requirements for your lab staff. Then develop the most effective measure to deliver, track, and evaluate that training. Is your facility ready for a learning management system? Have you been able to migrate PowerPoint and in-person trainings to on-demand distant learning modules for employees to access from home? 

Policy and Plan Review

Most OSHA plans, like your chemical hygiene plan and your hazardous communication plan, require an annual review to ensure that any changes have been addressed and any necessary modifications made. Other EHS plans should be reviewed routinely, especially for growing companies to ensure they are up to date and that you have appropriately identified and evaluated safety and environmental liabilities. However, given the reactionary nature of EHS, sometimes we’re unable to proactively review existing plans and make updates. Reviewing all existing plans and policies during facility shutdowns is time well spent to manage current and future risk and to keep your facility safe. 

Laboratory Decontamination

How often do you have the opportunity to decontaminate or clean your labs without interrupting lab activities? A shutdown is an ideal time to have contractors perform lab decons. Such a project doesn’t disrupt current lab operations and is a proactive tactic for making the work space a safe space. 

If you need assistance with the initiatives discussed in this post, we can help. Contact the Triumvirate Environmental team today.

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