Safety Training by Accident

Safety awareness in the laboratory does not happen by accident. Initial training and on-going education should be a part of your overall lab safety program. One way to do that is to review a different safety topic each month with your staff. There are certainly more than twelve topics in the field of lab safety,… Continue reading Safety Training by Accident

The CDC- Could It Happen to You?

Unless you work in the laboratories at the CDC, you probably don’t know all of the details of the actual safety lapses that occurred recently. These issues led to the potential exposure of several employees to highly dangerous pathogens. When speaking on these issues, the CDC director stated that he knew there were flaws in… Continue reading The CDC- Could It Happen to You?

Be Ready for Ebola in your Laboratory

With the events occurring in our world regarding the Ebola outbreak and the related events in our own country, hospitals everywhere in the U.S. are preparing for the possibility of dealing with a suspected or confirmed Ebola patient. That affects laboratories as well. There is much information available, and some of it changes daily. The… Continue reading Be Ready for Ebola in your Laboratory

The Safety Medical Director

After I gave a lab presentation at this year’s AACC conference in Chicago, a doctor came to me and told me he thought the information I spoke about was very valuable. He said he did not hear about lab safety enough and that more doctors should be aware of the information I was giving.  I… Continue reading The Safety Medical Director

Looking for a Sign

As I was getting ready to head to New York City for a quick vacation, I was at the train platform wondering if I was in the right place. There were no clear signs. There wasn’t anybody around to answer questions. When the first train came in, it was a commuter train, not the long… Continue reading Looking for a Sign

From Safety Eyes to X-ray Vision

In the Immunohistochemical stain lab, Rory made up his special stains under the chemical fume hood. One of the reagents he used was hydrochloric acid. At the end of each month there was usually a little bit of acid that needed to be disposed of as waste. He poured the waste acid into a glass… Continue reading From Safety Eyes to X-ray Vision

Swallowing the Safety Pill

A colleague of mine told me she saw a great cartoon depicting a doctor who had invented a pill that could cure every disease known to man. The problem was the pill could not be swallowed- it was about ten feet wide! I thought this was a great illustration for new lab safety professionals, and… Continue reading Swallowing the Safety Pill

Standing Down for Safety

Have you ever run into a safety situation in your laboratory that requires immediate attention? Have you found a safety problem that you discovered may be happening with all lab staff? If so, you may have come to a point where you need to initiate a safety stand down. By definition, a stand-down event means… Continue reading Standing Down for Safety

Standing Down for Safety II

You received a report from the Occupational Health office that Melinda, a phlebotomist, reported a needle stick exposure. Four days later, you receive a second report about another phlebotomist at a different location. When you visit Melinda to get further details, you learn that she carries a sharps container on her tray with no lid… Continue reading Standing Down for Safety II

The Eyes Can Have It

When the inspector issued Julia the report with all of the safety citations in her lab, Julia reacted with surprise. She had been the lab manager (and safety officer) there for six years. Sure, she’d been busy recently with designing the new lab space they would soon move to, but how had she not noticed… Continue reading The Eyes Can Have It

In and Out Safety

Over the years I’ve had many conversations with lab managers and pathologists about their role in lab safety. I have often stressed that lab leadership needs to be a role model of safety every day. These folks walk through the lab several times a day for various reasons, and they may not be aware, but… Continue reading In and Out Safety

The Role of the Role Model

The importance of lab leadership (managers, pathologists, etc.) acting as a role model for safety cannot be overstated. At that same time, it would be foolish to ignore that fact that many lab leaders do not take the time to put safety at the top of their list. Because of that, it is key for… Continue reading The Role of the Role Model

Lab Safety Q&A

As a lab safety consultant, I get questions from many different lab professionals, and I share the answers to those questions in my monthly newsletter so that others with similar issues may benefit from the information. Most of the answers are derived from safety regulations or guidelines that are in place, but there are some… Continue reading Lab Safety Q&A

Getting Fired Up Over Safety

Every year I love to use October as the time to discuss fire safety. After all, many other organizations promote fire safety ever since October was designated as National Fire Prevention Month in 1922. This year, as always, I do want lab safety professionals to be “fired up” about safety, but there have been some… Continue reading Getting Fired Up Over Safety

On Assertiveness

One of the most important on-going activities for a safety leader is the training of the safety team- not just training on safety regulations- but training team members how to coach employees about safety issues as they are discovered on the job. A laboratory safety professional may know and understand every safety regulation, but if… Continue reading On Assertiveness

The Safety Culture Issue

On which side of the aisle do you stand on the subject of change? Things change – or – things never change? The only constant is change – or – it’s always the same old thing? When it comes to the lab safety culture, there are some generally-accepted thoughts. Change is difficult. Change is slow.… Continue reading The Safety Culture Issue

Safety Success Down Any Path

For eight years, while performing lab safety audits, I have cited a couple of labs for having keyboards raised. The little legs on the rear of the computer keyboard were up and there was no wrist rest in place. Ergonomically, this is an unsound practice, and it is one item on my safety audit checklist.… Continue reading Safety Success Down Any Path

Exposing Exposure Control

Marlene walked by the chemistry department and noticed several lab safety issues with Doug who was working there that day. Doug was wearing mesh sneakers. He had on a lab coat but his sleeves were rolled up. He was chewing gum, and he was placing open specimens on the analyzer with no face protection. When… Continue reading Exposing Exposure Control

The Study of Work?

A few years ago the average age of medical technologists working in the field was 51, and that number is climbing. Many are nearing what they hope to be happy and healthy retirement years. Sometimes, though, those years are not so happy and healthy. Issues may arise such as carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back… Continue reading The Study of Work?

The Lab Sound Barrier

Ergonomics tends to be a lesser concern in the realm of laboratory safety, and noise- an ergonomics issue- gets even less attention. Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) require that noise gets proper notice in the lab. Laboratories of all types must have a policy that… Continue reading The Lab Sound Barrier

The OSHA Consequences

Many lab managers and safety professionals tell me they cannot get staff to maintain compliance with the safety basics in the lab. There tends to be several different possible reasons for this, and you may encounter one or more of these in your work area: -No management/medical director support of the lab safety program. -No… Continue reading The OSHA Consequences

The Last Deadline

OSHA’s adoption of the Globally Harmonized System for the classification and labeling of chemicals in the workplace (GHS) was implemented in several phases beginning in 2013, and its last deadline falls on June 1, 2016. The effects were immense for those who manufacture, transport, and handle chemicals, and of course it affected laboratories everywhere. There… Continue reading The Last Deadline

A Light Touch

The other day I went to get a haircut (yes, even though I don’t have the hair I used to have, I still go to a barber shop from time to time). The stylist was a nice young lady, and she was good at carrying a conversation. I began to notice as she continued her… Continue reading A Light Touch

Sublimation Anticipation

Many years ago I worked in a lab that often received dry ice in boxes with our blood product deliveries. The habit in the lab was to dump the excess frozen carbon dioxide into one of our stainless steel sinks. The staff would get excited each time there was a delivery because they liked to… Continue reading Sublimation Anticipation

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