All posts by Tim Hawkins

Equipment Configuration Feng Shui Can Enhance Lab Safety

RocksEvery lab has its own spatial challenges. In the process of working with lab administrators over the years, we’ve heard about many different configuration obstacles that labs have had to overcome to get their work done. Sometimes, these changes seem to require a Feng Shui expert to get things to align properly—but a better approach is to talk to experts about incorporating custom dedicated lab furniture into your lab.

Aligning Mass Spec Equipment and Lab Safety

Research labs, academic labs, and clinical labs all have their own unique set of priorities and necessary outcomes, and for each, the ideal lab configuration is different. When you consider the shape and dimensions of the space you’re working with, there’s simply no way to have a “one size fits all” solution. Instead, it’s best to align your spatial limitations and equipment support needs to determine the best setup for a well-organized space—one that will prevent lab accidents from happening and keep workflow moving as efficiently as possible. When your furniture is crafted with the task in mind, even personnel posture can be improved.

Making Lab Arrangements Work and Prevent Lab Accidents

The shape and size of your mass spec and other key instrumentation will determine a lot of what you can and can’t do within your lab space. For example, we had a customer with a Shimadzu 8050 alongside a large HPLC system. He also wanted an attached work area for his computer so he didn’t have to trek back and forth to record data. We have an extended lab bench, but the overhang from it would have covered a third of the standard lateral side bench needed for the computer. We worked out a custom solution, using our dedicated lab furniture, which canted the additional work surface to minimize the overlap. The result was a large, sophisticated MS-HPLC system, with workstation, all in a space of between eight and nine feet.

Another issue arises when labs have deep mass specs, such as the Waters Xevo TQ-S. In this situation, we can install access holes for hoses on the back of the IonBench MS instead of on the top, which is our standard configuration. Since the bench is also built on casters, it’s possible to get to those hoses without reaching and climbing—thus decreasing the possibility of accidents and minimizing potential damage when the equipment is moved out for servicing.

Mobility Is the Key to Configuration Success

Casters are key when it comes to arranging your lab. We know of a startup facility in Boston with a beautiful, classic lab design, where everything was aligned perfectly at the beginning to allow for efficient workflow and to prevent lab accidents. Unfortunately, over time, they purchased more and more equipment and had no place to put it.

If they’d set everything on movable lab furniture, they could have easily, repeatedly, and safely rearranged their lab to find a configuration that would work best for them. Ultimately, they had to rent additional space to house their growing collection of equipment. It was a costly alternative that could have been avoided with some planning and forethought about customization and mobility.

Keeping Lab Workspaces Functional

There are several key elements to supporting lab safety through designing functional lab spaces. Fine-tuning your set up will ensure that lab personnel can work safely and efficiently within a space.

You may not even realize your lab configuration is inefficient, because you’ve become so used to working around the inefficiencies. But there’s a good chance your lab feng shui could be improved. Give us a call to talk about your unique spatial challenges and we’d be happy to explore the many possibilities for customizing your lab configuration.

Pointers for Lab Bench Maintenance and Countertop Care

Do's & Dont'sRemember the adage about being “part of the furniture?” It usually refers to something or someone that is such a reliable and regular feature that they are taken for granted or seen as a permanent fixture. If you’re fortunate, you might have a long-serving lab tech or two who are like that. The ones that always get their jobs done, and are generally low-maintenance. Even those steadfast lab techs need occasional attention, and so does your dedicated lab furniture.

All furniture—even incredibly durable dedicated lab furniture—requires proper care. We’ll share some cleaning and maintenance tips that will address the dos and don’ts of keeping your lab furniture and countertops in tip-top shape.

Lab Bench Vulnerabilities

But first—what are the risks? Unless a surface is made of diamonds or a solid sheet of Q-carbon (and frankly, could you afford to have it in your lab if it was?), any surface is vulnerable to damage if not cared for properly. Lab bench countertops can be damaged by any of the following:

  • Immense weight—stacking too much equipment on one surface can cause structural damage to the average bench. Good news is, our IonBench is equipped with specially-built casters that help support heavy equipment. The weight of equipment can also lead to…
  • Scratches and dents—something that is much more likely to happen with laminate, but can still damage Chem Res™ and other epoxy resin countertops if one is not careful.
  • Spilled solvents—which is why it’s critical to clean up any spill in your lab long before it has a chance to seep into cracks or the seams of the countertop (our countertop is seamless in design, to help eliminate risk of damage).
  • Heat and flame—fire-resistant (which our countertops are) does not mean fireproof, which is why no lab experiment should ever be left unattended.

Lab Bench Maintenance Will Extend the Life of Your Furniture

The epoxy resin used for the IonBench LC and the Chem Res™ countertops used for other IonBench products are largely heat, moisture, and flame resistant. With proper lab bench care, these types of countertops can last for many years.

Here are some tips for preserving the shine and maximizing the longevity of your new countertop.

  • Avoid cleaning liquids and supplies that contain abrasives. These can dull or scratch that new-bench shine.
  • Avoid waxes, or polishes that contain wax.
  • Use mild dish soap and water for daily cleaning.
  • With major spills, avoid volatile cleaning compounds such as acetone or paint thinner, which can permeate the lab and compromise future analysis results. Crystal Simple Green is a much safer lab bench care option.
  • Avoid scouring pads, except for white Scotch-Brite® Light Duty pads—which must always be used wet.
  • We prefer chamois cloths, which are both absorbent and gentle. If those are a little too costly for your budget, cotton rags and towels will also work.
  • Metal equipment can mar the surface. Ensure that the rubber feet of your various types of equipment are present and intact.
  • If scratches do result from metal contact, use the cleaning process above and apply extra elbow grease to remove any minuscule amounts of metal that may get left behind.

The bottom line is that nothing, and no one, should be considered just “part of the furniture.” There are many different aspects that can contribute to your lab’s success, and proper care of your surfaces is one of them.

To learn more about dedicated lab furniture that is built to withstand the many tests of time and everyday wear, contact us today.

Is Soundproofing Part of Your Lab Safety Strategy?

NoiseHow confident are you that the noise pollution in your lab isn’t reaching levels that could be interfering with the quality of your lab’s research—or worse, risking the health and well-being of your personnel?

Noise and, of course, its accompanying vibrations can result from conversation, the ever-present hum of lab equipment, or outside environmental factors (think of the landscaping crew running the lawn mower every Wednesday at 3pm).

All that noise can lend to a chaotic environment in which communication breaks down and instructions become harder to follow. High-level occupational noise leads to hearing loss and even low-level occupational noise has been linked to stress and cardiovascular disease.

In short, rising noise levels are a serious liability.

What Does Noise Reduction have to do with Lab Safety?

While the noise is doing a number on the people in your lab, vibration is compromising the integrity of your lab equipment. Your mass spectrometer, and the furniture that supports it, is slowly being shaken apart; tubes may begin to leak, cooling fans may start to break, and table joints become less stable.

The most ideal way to battle noise and vibration is to treat it at the source. Investing in dedicated lab furniture that’s designed specifically to minimize and contain noise is half the battle. But there are also soundproofing treatments you can incorporate into your lab design to help keep the equipment noise contained, and some of the hazardous side-effects at bay.

Basic Soundproofing Principles

 Avoid air cavities - Trapped air resonates and causes the walls or sides of whatever material is trapping it to vibrate. It’s the same basic principle of most musical instruments; drums, guitars, wind instruments—vibrations are captured and manipulated within an opening to produce a desired sound. So, if you have walls, cabinets, nooks or crannies in your lab that are potential air traps, find a way to identify and insulate those cavities with foam or other materials designed to absorb vibration.

Enclosures and barriers - At the core, noise reduction is about preventing sound from penetrating one side of a wall or enclosure and transmitting through the material into an adjacent area. Walls and barriers act as shields which dampen noise. Some labs are built with soundproofing and noise enclosures in mind, but if yours isn’t one of them, you can help alleviate the transmission of noise and vibration by creating or installing walls and barriers around your noisy mass spectrometer and vacuum pumps, gas generators, compressors, freezers—you get the idea.

Damping – The more mass a wall has, the harder it is for sound to travel through it. You’ll want to make sure your walls are thick and dampened. There are several sources online that will help you do this yourself. Of course, you can hire companies to do some of this work for you, and that might be practical if you’re redesigning your current lab or investing in a new construction project.

Noise Reduction, Compliments of Dedicated Lab Furniture

Like every other task in your lab, you need the right equipment and tools to get the job done. Cutting a significant portion of the noise off at the source will help reduce the total ambient sound traveling throughout your lab. Quiet vacuum pump enclosures are specialized cabinets designed to reduce vacuum pump noise by approximately 75%.

Our lab benches and desks are also expertly built with noise-reduction in mind. IonBench uses patented calibrated dampening springs to remove 99% of vibration transfer.

Beyond that, any soundproofing materials or barriers are just icing on the cake.

If you’re in a position to decide what the best plan of action is to soundproof your lab, and aren’t entirely sure what the next steps are, get a hold of us. We can help you with a noise reduction system that’s best for your needs.

Explosion at Eglin is a Reminder for Lab Accident Prevention

AccidentThe recent lab accident that sent smoke billowing into the sky above a research facility on Eglin Air Force Base in Florida is a reminder of the importance of lab safety. Fortunately, it appears no one was injured in this laboratory mishap, but one building exploded and burned, sending toxic smoke into the air and likely damaging ongoing research projects in the McKinley Climatic Laboratory, which is the largest controlled-environment facility for testing aircraft under adverse conditions.

Making Lab Safety a Priority

This news is a serious reminder about lab safety, which we believe is critically important for every research lab, regardless of its size. While we don’t know the details or cause of this lab accident, we’re willing to bet that it might have been avoided if all existing lab safety protocols had been followed. In the past, we have shared other stories about lab accidents that have caused injury, sometimes deadly.

Causes of lab accidents vary widely, from a lack of understanding about hazards in the lab to incorrect use of lab tools and equipment. Inexperience, distraction, and inattention can cause lab accidents, as can cracked or broken glassware or other damaged tools.

Key Components for Preventing Lab Accidents

Fortunately, protocols and procedures exist to help prevent lab accidents from occurring. Critical thinking and follow-through can go a long way. Here are some tips on how to get everyone in your lab subscribing to methods and practices that help promote lab safety culture:

Recognize potential hazards and risks - Every class of compounds and solutions should be well-known to those who work with them. This includes a complete understanding of the various hazards and risks involved in handing each compound. Understand which pieces of equipment should be used and what procedures are appropriate when completing each task.

In addition to recognizing the risks involved, it’s important to ask if there is a safer class of compounds that can be used instead. If this is not possible, determine whether a reaction scheme or procedure can be minimized to reduce hazard risks.

If personal protective equipment is your primary line of defense, make certain to address whether any other safety measures might be taken in addition, to minimize the chance of lab accidents.

Evaluating risks - In addition to risk likelihood, it’s important to evaluate risk severity. Fume hood spills are higher in probability than explosions, but fortunately fume hood lab accidents are usually less severe. With more severe possibilities, it’s important to ask whether both supervisors and institutional leaders would consider the risk sufficiently worth taking in light of the potential outcome of the experiment. What would be the legal ramifications of a severe lab accident?

Paying attention and work in appropriate groupings - Another element which can jeopardize lab safety is inattention caused by working with too many or too few people. Some lab operations are serious enough that established safety procedures require a coworker to be present, or the work to be done only during regular operational hours. It is always wise, whenever hazardous situations are possible, to thoroughly evaluate the possibilities and discuss appropriate protocols with supervisors or PIs.

Keeping News Lab-Accident Free

Honestly, we hate reading about lab accidents in the news—especially ones that end in tragedy. We’d rather discuss lab safety from a theoretical level and recognize that adopting effective accident prevention habits takes a communal effort.

Carelessness is a potential danger in every lab. Even the quality and placement of your dedicated lab furniture can make a difference in lab safety. Don’t add to lab chaos, or allow lab furniture to contribute to a lab accident. Contact us today to learn more about the lab safety features in our IonBenches.

Unchecked Lab Noise Could Cause Anger, Stress, and Cardiovascular Disease

StressThere’s a wealth of research and awareness regarding occupational and environmental health risks to hearing. While, in general, lab noise isn’t likely to approach the dBA of a jackhammer or a power saw—levels that damage hearing—it can still be a compromising factor for health in other ways (and in turn, lab safety).

Substantial evidence shows that the effects of long-term exposure to noise, even low-level noise, can range far beyond its impact on hearing. Exposure to loud noise has been linked to an increase in annoyance, sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease, and even cognitive impairment in children.

The Non-Auditory Effects of Lab Noise on Health

Now, we certainly hope that there are no children in your lab. And we hope that staff are not sleeping there either, on or off shift. The lab safety issue has more to do with the lasting effect noise has on our bodies throughout the day and night.

Annoyance: While annoyance in the workplace might be something we are inclined to roll our eyes at, the long-term effects of working in a setting that triggers annoyance can be real and lasting. Anger, displeasure, and exhaustion are all side-effects of sustained periods of annoyance. These can manifest in large and small ways, triggering lab safety issues when workplace conversations escalate into anger and displeasure. We’re all human, and it’s no secret that annoyed or angry people tend to display poor judgment or impaired function—the prime underlying causes of tragic lab accidents. 

Stress: Stress can cause a dangerous lab safety downward spiral if it is not addressed. While sleep disturbance from noise is usually linked to environmental factors in the home rather than lab noise, lab noise can increase stress, which is linked to sleep loss. This means one of the effects of lab noise on health is lack of sleep. Let’s face it; sleepy lab techs are sloppy lab techs. They might mislabel solution or accidentally skip lab safety protocols, resulting in dangerous lab conditions.

Cardiovascular Disease: More hidden effects of lab noise on health come in the form of cardiovascular disease. Repeated noise exposure increases blood pressure and heart rate; and releases stress hormones, thereby increasing the stress response. These bodily changes have a direct impact on the heart, resulting, over time, in increased rates of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Naturally, these diseases will have a direct impact, not just on lab safety, but on your staff’s productivity as well. We have listed some of the longer-term effects of lab noise on health and your lab’s productivity in a prior article.

Lab Noise Reduction Improves Lab Safety

There is hope though, and these nasty side-effects of lab noise on health can be controlled. One of the best ways, is to invest in quality dedicated lab furniture that will, among other things, help with lab noise reduction. Our IonBench MS can decrease noise and increase both lab safety and productivity, so contact us today to discuss customized solutions to battle the noise.

Moving on up: Mass Spec Life Sciences and Forensics Applications

Going UpPeriodically we like to highlight the amazing work that is coming out of mass spec life sciences and forensics research. It’s nice to know our dedicated lab furniture is literally supporting the machines that improve the quality of life, and we like to celebrate those innovations when we can.

These four mass spec accomplishments are worth a share.

Simultaneously Detecting Multiple Shellfish Toxins

Tandem mass spectrometry continues to break new ground. In this case, food-safety researchers in China utilized HPLC-MS/MS technology to tangle with multiple paralytic toxins. Eight different compounds that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning can now be simultaneously determined with a single sample using multiple reaction monitoring and matrix-matched calibration. This work makes it significantly easier and less expensive to test shellfish for toxins and thus prevent seafood poisoning in the general population.

Tracking Salmonella Typhimurium Host-Pathogen Interactions

Researchers in the United Kingdom and Sweden have been investigating Salmonella Typhimurium, which causes gastroenteritis and can lead to systemic disease if these bacteria invade the small intestine. In a report published in June, 2017, they focused on the use of mass spectrometry to track interactions between S. Typhimurium and its murine hosts. In humans, especially the young, the immunocompromised, or the elderly, S. Typhimurium crosses the intestinal epithelium and migrates to systemic sites.

Researchers focused on mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs), which drain the intestines and thus are more susceptible to what is contained therein. Researchers were able to determine that palmitoylcarnitine (PalC) reduces T cells and increases B cells, thus impacting the progress of the systemic infection.

Mass spectrometry was essential to this process because MSI tracks a full spectrum, allowing researchers to discover and determine target molecules after samples have already been analyzed. In this case, multiple candidate molecules were detected and analyzed before PalC was chosen for further analysis.

Decoding Designer Drug Overdoses

Emergency rooms across the country are at a disadvantage when arriving patients have overdosed on drugs of any kind. There are literally hundreds of designer drug components available on the streets these days, and treatments for the various compounds differ. Hospitals currently must collect a blood sample, put it on ice, and rush it to a lab for preparation and then MS analysis. This takes precious time which can be the difference between survival and death.

Now Nicholas Manicke of Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis created a small device, preloaded with a single-use cartridge of chemical components, that will take one drop of blood and immediately prep it for mass spec analysis. He envisions a future where these devices will collaborate with an on-site MS to provide two essential services: (1) an immediate and detailed analysis of both the components and concentration of each designer drug element and (2) public health data on designer -drug component trends.

Hair Sample Use in Toxicology

Hair analysis is increasingly being used in conjunction with mass spectrometry because the standard growth rate of hair (one centimeter per month) allows researchers to determine both the volume and introduction timing of either essential or toxic metals into the human system. Hair is much easier than other samples to collect, preserve, transport and store.

Historically, mass spec forensics has analyzed bulk hair samples, seeking only concentration of metals using inductively coupled plasma MS. Now, however, researchers from China are using secondary ion mass spectrometry, particle induced x-ray emission 12, and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, to analyze individual hair strands for both the volume of metals present and the timing of their introduction. The success of this initial experiment bodes well for its routine use in therapeutic, occupational, nutritional and toxicological situations.

Mass Spec Applications and Lab Furniture that Supports Them

Clearly, mass spectrometry applications continue to expand in usefulness, across genres and around the globe. As each MS supports the work of its researchers, we hope you’ll consider supporting your mass spectrometer with our dedicated lab furniture.

Get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more about protecting and maximizing your mass spec investment.

How Smart Labs Battle Bad Vibrations

QuietThere are no “good vibrations” when it comes to your mass spec. Every new generation of mass spectrometer brings forth more sensitive machines that produce increasingly finer spectra. However, this increase in analytic power comes at a cost to the lab, which must maintain these sensitive machines in progressively more solid and stable lab conditions.

Keeping the damaging effects of vibration at bay can be done. Making sure you have the right lab furniture is key, but there are several other techniques smart labs use that we’ll share with you as well.

Sources of Sound and Vibration

First, let’s think about all the places vibrations can originate from. There are plenty of common sources of noise and movement in and around your lab environment that generate subtle but impactful vibration. With super-sensitive, modern mass spectrometry, even walking down a nearby hallway or closing a door can cause undue vibration. Vibrations can arise from cars going by outside the building and mechanical devices within it, such as elevators, HVAC units, compressors, pumps, etc. Buildings sway in response to weather and small movements of the earth, not to mention larger seismic activity. Even exhaust fans can contribute to bad vibrations if they become unbalanced.

Avoiding Bad Vibrations for Good Mass Spectrometry

Take a look at the Quiet Wing, created by the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory. This lab space was specifically engineered to minimize noise and vibration. Not every lab is in a position to build such a protected building from the ground up, but there are some easier and less expensive changes that can be made:

  • If possible, locate your mass spectrometry labs on the lowest floors of your research building to decrease the effect of building sway, weather, and seismic activity.
  • Keep sensitive mass specs far away from elevators, HVAC systems, compressors, etc.
  • Installing acoustic tiles and other sound-absorbing materials on walls and ceilings can help minimize vibration.
  • Incorporating signage that reminds lab personnel of the importance of keeping noise and physical activity down whenever possible.

Minimize Vibration with Good Laboratory Furniture

Vibration not only impacts the performance of sensitive mass specs, it can also shorten the lifespan of their components, especially the turbomolecular pumps. The irony is that vacuum pumps also create vibration, challenging mass spectrometry teams to create the vibration free environment needed for their research.

The surest solution is to invest in dedicated laboratory furniture with isolating vacuum pump enclosures, like the IonBench MS. Our enclosures reduce vacuum pump noise by a guaranteed 15 dbA, eliminating the miniscule, but measurable, vibrations created by significant noise.

These enclosures are mounted on patented dampening springs which absorb 99% of vibration transfer. We believe every lab can benefit by utilizing mass spectrometry laboratory furniture that both isolates noise and eliminates vibration—regardless of the building or environment in which it is set. IonBench MS tackles the noise and vibration issues at the source itself.

To learn more about how our laboratory furniture eliminates bad vibrations, contact us today to request a quote or to get your questions about integrating IonBench MS into your lab answered. Your mass spec will thank you for it.

Lab Safety and MS Sensitivity Leap Forward with TENGs

ElectricityOver its 130-year history, the mass spectrometer has undergone multiple technological advances. During that time, however, the power source has remained direct current—which has certain limiting factors. As you likely know, it’s typically impossible to control the number of charges in the ionization process. The number of generated ions also cannot be reliably correlated with the applied voltage.

A Revolutionary Power Source

Now, however, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have broken through this power source limitation with the introduction of TENGs, or triboelectric nanogenerators. TENGs utilize oscillating high voltage and controlled current, thus having the capacity to improve the ionization process by increasing voltage without sample damage.

TENGs use friction to generate static electricity. By rubbing together one material that sheds electrons (such as nylon or glass) and a second material that naturally absorbs electrons (such as Teflon or silicon), TENGs power small, efficient electronic devices. This simple conversion of mechanical energy from friction to electricity has the capacity to transform much of mass spectrometry.

Micro-Power Makes a Macro-Difference

Why can TENGs make such a difference in mass spectrometry? A fixed input charge is the answer. Regardless of current or voltage, the mass spec can analyze much smaller samples at even higher sensitivities—down to 100 molecules. A fixed number of charges also allows for previously impossible control over the generation of ions—which enables the MS to work with much greater efficiency. Molecule charge can be controlled for every cycle, regardless of the TENG’s speed.

A leap in voltage is another consequence of using TENGs. Standard MS ionizers operate at less than 1,500 volts while TENGs can generate as much as 8,000 volts. This allows for much smaller sample sizes—a “completely different electrospray regime,” according to Professor Facundo Fernández of Georgia Tech.

Generating Leaps in Lab Safety and Portability

In addition to added sensitivity and the ability to use smaller sample sizes, TENGs also revolutionize the power equation. They eliminate the need for high-voltage power supplies (despite generating many more volts!). Removing such power sources from your lab will both increase lab safety and dramatically decrease your lab’s energy costs.

The benefits of mass spec miniaturization are countless. Without the need for high-voltage power supplies these nanogenerators have an increased potential for portability, making it easier to take mass specs into the field. Being able to analyze samples at the scene, especially in extreme, harsh environments, can both speed up time-sensitive processes and increase project efficiency.

We’re thrilled to see that mass specs continue to evolve and we’re here to help you to keep up with the many improvements happening in the field. Each new generation of mass spectrometer should be supported with dedicated lab furniture. It’s an investment that keeps lab safety at the forefront while crafting customizable lab benches that can meet the needs of every mass spec, researcher or technician. Contact us today to discuss your lab’s furniture needs and to learn more about our commitment to lab safety.

Reasons Why Lab Noise Reduction is a Health and Safety Matter

yawnOne of our important lab safety mantras is that high noise levels in the lab can both contribute to lab safety accidents and undermine employee health.

Noisy work environments lead to increased stress levels, breakdowns in communication, and even negative impacts on cognition. If you want to promote employee health and safety, lab noise reduction is a good direction to follow.

Health Risks Associated with Workplace Noise

By now, we all know that high levels of noise have a detrimental effect on hearing—and while the noise in your lab might not be bad enough to cause hearing loss, there are other adverse health effects. For example, a study published several years ago linked noise pollution to heart disease. The researchers specifically noted increases in coronary disease and hypertension as a result of chronic exposure to higher noise levels.

Furthermore, the body responds to increased noise by releasing various stress-related hormones: cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These are proven contributors to hypertension, stroke, heart failure, and immune deficiencies. In addition to harming your lab techs, all of these employee health issues can also lead to increased sick time taken and decreased productivity in the lab.

Lab Noise Reduction Also Prevents Lab Accidents

The masking nature of noise is such that even when it’s reduced to 55 dBA (learn more about decibels here), it can still prevent you and your colleagues from understanding each other’s verbal direction. This miscommunication contributes to a greater risk for lab incidents and accidents. At least for the time being, labs don’t come with subtitles, and a misheard instruction can be deadly—especially when working with hazardous materials.

Even workers’ ability to comprehend and process daily tasks can be compromised by excessive noise. The authors of this article, the Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health, point out that studies examining road traffic and airport noise suggest high noise levels have a negative impact on cognition. The authors also mention that studies “have shown that reductions in noise exposure…are associated with improvements in cognition…” In fact, The World Health Organization Noise Guidelines suggest that background levels should not exceed 35 dbA during children’s school lessons because it limits their cognitive abilities.

Simply taking steps to reduce the noise in your lab could improve lab personnel’s ability to process information and do their job safely and efficiently.

Using Dedicated Lab Furniture for Lab Noise Reduction

One of the most effective methods of lab noise reduction is the introduction of IonBench dedicated lab furniture into your facility. One primary lab noise culprit is your mass spec vacuum pumps, and our dedicated lab furniture is designed to sequester those vacuum pump sounds within specially designed cabinets. We’re so certain of the success of our IonBench MS that we guarantee a lab noise reduction of 15 dBA from those pumps. This translates into a health-risk decrease of 10-15%.

So, taking all this information into consideration, don’t you think it would be wise to protect your employees from both the direct and indirect health hazards of excessive noise? Easy and obvious solutions are available with the IonBench MS. Request a quote from us today to learn more.


Lab Working Conditions and the Hawthorne Effect

InvestTrying to figure out the exact equation for what will make your lab environment the safest it can be, while maintaining productivity and team morale can be a real challenge.

Investing in quality, dedicated lab furniture helps to improve lab working conditions in multiple ways. First, our IonBenches are specifically designed to meet the safety and organizational needs of the modern laboratory environment. Second, simply taking the steps to improve the working conditions of your lab will be noticed by personnel, causing morale to skyrocket. Rest assured productivity will follow suit.

The second point is supported by a curious cause and effect—better known as The Hawthorne Effect.

The Hawthorne Effect

This fascinating phenomenon was first discovered by researchers at the Hawthorne Works in Cicero, Illinois in the early twentieth century. Researchers were seeking to discover if changes in lighting, working hours, break times, etc. would make a difference in employee productivity at the Hawthorne plant. What they found was that both morale and productivity improved over the course of the study, but returned to their original levels once the study was over.

Researchers concluded that the employees responded to the observation by increasing their productivity. What’s more, morale increased because workers realized management was expressing concern about their working conditions. The Hawthorne Effect has been replicated in a variety of studies since then. It occurs when employees feel that their needs are being addressed.

Involving Lab Personnel in Assessing Lab Working Conditions

While we firmly believe that improvements in lab safety do make a difference, it’s also true that simply taking steps to improve lab working conditions can have positive effects as personnel recognizes interest is being taken in their wellbeing.

What does this mean for lab management? It doesn’t mean you should frequently run lighting or temperature experiments—that could be disastrous. Instead, we believe it means involving lab personnel in discussions about how to provide the safest and most efficient work environment.

Ask staff about what changes could improve their day-to-day operations and you might be surprised by their responses. You might even bring about the Hawthorne Effect.

Some suggestions that we have for improving lab working conditions include the following:

These are just a few starters. We imagine your lab personnel will have more suggestions. When you take their suggestions seriously and follow through, you will gain employee loyalty as well as increased productivity and morale.

Show your techs you care about making their lives easier by taking steps toward improving safety and organization in your lab. If dedicated lab furniture is in order, contact us today to learn more.