Monthly Archives: March 2015

Lab Safety Resources for Handy Reference

Lab Safety ResourcesDedicated lab furniture and lab safety go hand in hand. It is one reason why we keep a safe work environment top of mind, always. As a result, we take safety personally,

There are also many organizations available that do the same. They are dedicated to support safe work and lab environments, and can offer extensive assistance to make sure your lab functions at the safest level possible. Below are four such resources to keep in mind.

OSHA: The Occupational Safety & Health Administration

This governmental organization is certainly the most well-known. Created in 1970 “to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work,” OSHA oversees the reporting process when someone gets hurt and provides lots of helpful resources to prevent such occurrences from happening in the first place.

Its stated goal is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance,” and the OSHA website is full of information relating to both employer responsibilities and employee rights.

This is the best place to start with questions you might have about ensuring lab safety for all your staff.

AIHA: American Industrial Hygiene Association

Here’s an organization dedicated to the more specific needs of researchers when it comes to lab safety. Like the labs it supports through its work, AIHA takes a scientific approach and is dedicated to “creating knowledge to protect worker health.”

AIHA uses a proactive approach, anticipating the health and safety concerns that can arise in workplace situations and designing appropriate solutions. Paying attention to everything from gas and vapor detection to risk assessment strategies, this organization has assembled more than 40 volunteer scientific and technical committees, task forces, and working groups to address any lab safety issues that could arise.

LSI: The Laboratory Safety Institute

It should come as no surprise that the research industry has its own dedicated lab safety organization. Founded in 1978 to provide safety training for secondary school science teachers, LSI is today an international nonprofit center for health and safety that has trained over 100,000 professionals in the education, government, and industrial sectors.

Providing safety training, audits, inspections, and consultation services, these are the go-to people for training your team on safe practices or learning about the latest innovations in lab safety.

LSI’s concise courses cover everything from radiation and biosafety to lab waste management and becoming a more effective chemical hygiene officer, and the classes are offered throughout the country, as well as via live webinars.

ACS: American Chemical Society

If your research involves any work with chemistry—and just about everyone’s does, at some level—you need to know about the resources available through the ACS. This “congressionally chartered independent membership organization” represents professionals in all the sciences that involve chemistry.

Operating as a nonprofit organization, the ACS publishes 47 scientific journals and databases, convenes research conferences, and is a clearinghouse for educational and science policy programs in chemistry.

It also funds research grants worth over $22 million every year, the results of which are accessed via 83 million journal article downloads—many of which involve topics related to lab safety.

Connecting Lab Safety and Dedicated Lab Furniture

Dedicated lab furniture plays a role in lab safety, both from properly supporting equipment and in the case of our specially designed IonBenches, dampening the noise from mass spectrometry vacuum pumps and safely raising and lowering LC stacks. IonBench dedicated lab furniture helps to protect the health of lab techs in challenging work situations.

To learn more about our commitment to lab safety, contact us today.

Customize Your Dedicated Lab Furniture for Your Lab’s Needs

customize-dedicated-lab-furnitureOne of life’s certainties beyond taxes and an ultimate demise, is no two labs are designed exactly the same. Furthermore, every piece of lab equipment is also different, so one setup rarely fits all, or even most.

This means that every lab will be set up in its own unique way, even if the same type of work is being conducted. It also often means you have to specifically configure your dedicated lab furniture to ensure it fits within very defined, and limited, parameters.

Here are some examples of challenges we’ve encountered where clients asked us to tailor their lab benches to fit certain spaces. The good news for you is that we’re willing to do whatever we can to craft dedicated lab furniture that will help you maximize every bit of space in your lab.

Begin with the Machine Design

When we build a piece of customized lab furniture, we have some basic goals in mind. The idea is to create a work environment that will safely contain your roughing pumps, hold your mass spec, and also house any peripheral equipment you might need. Beyond that, we aren’t tied to a particular look or design.

This is because each mass spectrometer is different. For example, because the Waters Xevo TQ-S is a very deep instrument, it requires access holes on the back of the bench instead of the surface in order to accommodate its hoses. We also need to know the make and model of the vacuum pumps in order to ensure both a properly sized enclosure and the correct size and shape of the anti-vibration springs.

What Peripherals Are You Using?

Accommodating peripherals is where things get interesting for us. We recently had a customer with a Shimadzu model 8050 and a relatively large HPLC system. We offered an extended bench, which was 200 centimeters, but he also needed an attached work area for his computer.

We started with a lateral side desk but then noticed that the overhang from the extended bench covered a third of it. So we had to figure out how to eliminate the overhang, eventually shifting the bench to the right to maximize work space. In the end, within a work area that was about eight or nine feet, our client had a fairly large, sophisticated HPLC and mass spec system, along with a workstation—very efficient and quiet.

Want to Go Back-to-Back?

In many of the more traditionally designed labs we’ve seen, there are often open spaces in the middle of the room and clients will ask us to build workstations that are back-to-back. To do that, we’ll often manufacture mirror-image benches where one enclosure is on the right and the other is on the left, allowing for properly integrated back-to-back configurations of their mass spec and HPLC systems.

Need Movable Dedicated Lab Furniture?

Of course, one important thing to remember in any lab, is that the only constant is change. Just as soon as you’ve got your lab set up perfectly, someone will tell you they’ve got to add another machine or workstation to the mix. One of the advantages of dedicated lab furniture is that we know how to make it movable while still keeping it strong and solid enough that instruments aren’t in any danger when you move things around.

No matter what configuration you need, we’ve probably seen something like it before. Before you decide it’s time to rent larger, more expensive lab space, give us a call and let us see if we can’t design some dedicated lab furniture that will maximize the space you’ve got.

Six Lab Safety Tips That Will Save Your Eardrums

lab-safety-noise-tipsDo you hear as well as you did when you were younger? Chances are you don’t. In fact, hearing loss is the third most common health issue in America, right behind arthritis and heart disease. By age 65, one-third of Americans are living with hearing loss. These are powerful statistics that should be of concern for all of us. While there may not be anything you can do to recover the hearing you’ve already lost, there are things you can do to preserve your current level of hearing.

One way is to protect your ears at your job, especially if you must work in a noisy lab environment. Today we offer six lab safety or anywhere tips that can help protect your hearing.

Lab Safety Tip #1: Avoid the noise.

Whenever possible, avoid noisy places—not just at work, but everywhere. If you know your hearing isn’t what it used to be, going to a very loud concert may not be the best way to spend your free time. At work, time your breaks or schedule a meeting in another building for when you know your lab environment will be the loudest.

Lab Safety Tip #2: Use earplugs.

If you must stay in a noisy environment, one way of enhancing lab safety is to protect your ears. Earplugs work, so use them, and if you need to talk with a colleague, ask them to step out of the research lab and into another room or adjacent hallway. That way you can remove your earplugs and hold your discussion in a reasonable tone of voice.

Lab Safety Tip #3: Invest in noise-canceling headphones.

Many workers listen to MP3 players on the job in order to help filter out the noise of their work environment. However, if you have to crank up your music in order to hear it, you’re only making the noise problem worse for your ears. Here’s a test. Ask your colleagues if they can hear your music. If they can, then you’re actually doing more harm to your hearing than good. Instead, invest in noise-canceling headphones. They’ll let you hear the music at a reasonable volume and filter the noise at the same time.

Lab Safety Tip #4: Don’t smoke.

While not technically a lab safety tip, it is important. Smoking doesn’t just damage your lungs. In the same way that smoke makes it harder for the cells in your lungs to work, it actually suffocates the other cells in your body, too. This includes the very sensitive cells in your ears. Smoking also makes blood sugar levels more difficult to regulate, so if you do smoke, get your blood sugar checked regularly. Otherwise, your blood sugar imbalance could further damage your hearing.

Lab Safety Tip #5: Give your ears time to recover.

Hearing specialists say your ears need at least 16 hours to recover from a two-hour exposure to damaging noise levels. So proper lab safety means staying away from noise when you’re not on the clock. Give your ears the time they need to recuperate, otherwise you may risk permanent hearing loss.

Lab Safety Tip #6: Get the right lab furniture for added lab safety.

If you work in a mass spectrometry research lab, using IonBench dedicated lab furniture is an effective, efficient way to reduce vacuum pump noise. The specially designed lab bench includes an enclosed cabinet for vacuum pumps, reducing noise levels by 15 dBA, or 75%. This way, you can avoid the inconvenience of wearing earplugs, plus you’re allowed to guiltlessly save your hearing for more pleasurable pursuits — like the occasional concert.

To learn more about how our lab benches can significantly improve the safety and efficiency of your lab, contact us today.