All posts by Tim Hawkins

More Mass Spectrometry Making a Difference

We periodically acknowledge advances and discoveries made with mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography. We know that often good work builds on previous foundations, which is why we provide a strong foundation for all mass specs with our dedicated lab furniture. In this post, we look at three innovations making a difference around the world.

Mass Spectrometry Aids in Determining Olive and Olive-Oil Safety

One ongoing issue with mass spectrometry is the harmful presence of lipids in samples that complicates the analysis of fatty foods. Researchers in Spain developed a novel analytical process that uses aminopropyl as a sorbent material and a Florisil cleanup in the elution step. These researchers used mass spectrometry twice—first GC-MS in SIM mode and then LC-MS-MS in positive ionization mode—to collect usable recoveries, which efficiently tested pesticide and herbicide levels in olives and olive oil. The development of this key process met newer, more stringent regulations regarding maximum contaminant levels set for olives and olive oil by the European Union and the United Nation’s Codex Alimentarius Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Quantifying Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Another methodology developed in the European Union determined and quantified nineteen polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Exposure to PAHs has been linked to multiple types of cancer; the EU prioritized fifteen of those nineteen PAHs for monitoring. A group of French researchers met the challenge and developed a process to determine PAHs in food and oil samples. The selective extraction of GC and tandem mass spectrometry, along with an isotope-dilution approach using 13C-labelled PAHs, provided greatly purified analytes. The methodology was quick and automated and provided high levels of sensitivity, selectivity, and interpretation.

Recording and Evaluating Mass Spectra in Their Native Environment

The ability to record mass spectra in ordinary samples in their native environment has been a holy grail for mass spectrometry. Researchers at Purdue University stepped toward this goal by developing ambient mass spectrometry. Using desorption electrospray ionization, they directed electrically charged droplets at the object of interest and then vacuumed up the released ions into the MS; rapid analysis took place on-site. Multiple uses for portable mass specs include explosives detection, natural-products discovery, and biological-tissue imaging.

Each of these examples demonstrate how researchers continue innovating applications of mass spectrometry that address real-world challenges. We celebrate these achievements and look forward to learning about more ways that mass spectrometry makes a difference.

Our IonBench dedicated lab furniture can be customized for each make and model of mass spec and HPLC so that researchers can focus on science and not on the inadequate support of their lab tables. To learn more about how our lab benches can be a firm foundation for your innovative work, contact Tim Hawkins via email or at 1-888-669-1233.

What an Airline Can Teach You about Lab Design and Dedicated Lab Furniture

Sometimes a lesson learned in one industry can easily be applied to another. The recent passing of Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher brought much attention to his progressive thinking. We saw an older article about the airline that sparked some inspiring thought on our part, so we thought we’d share the idea.

It turns out that Southwest Airlines has a wise business philosophy that applies to lab design and the purchasing of dedicated lab furniture.

What Makes Southwest Airlines Special

So, what caught our attention in this article? We noticed that Southwest Airlines’ focus on a single type of airplane makes good business sense in a variety of ways.

By exclusively using Boeing 737s, Southwest only needs to train mechanics on inspecting and repairing, and pilots on flying, a single type of plane. They only need to order and keep a single set of spare parts on hand. They can swap out airplanes at any time, for any reason, without worrying that their crew in a certain city can’t handle the plane if something needs attention before it returns to home base.

How strong is their commitment to this business model? When Southwest purchased AirTran, they leased all AirTran’s other types and models of planes to other airlines, rather than expanding their own fleet. They then used those funds to keep their current business model thriving.

Why This Business Model Works

Think about it for a moment: if you only need to train users on a single type of machine, training takes less time and money. If one mechanic or pilot is out sick, another can easily step in, because they all have the same expertise. Mechanics are also more likely to notice problems because they’re used to seeing each part of each plane looking the same; if something is out of line, they’ll notice right away.

Southwest Airlines also saves big on that inventory of spare parts. Not only do they intentionally limit the types of parts they need to have on hand, they can also order in bulk and receive significant discounts as a result.

How Does This Apply to Lab Design and Dedicated Lab Furniture?

If you’re designing a new lab or renovating an existing facility, it’s best if everything can work well together too. If you purchase dedicated lab furniture from a number of manufacturers, they might not interface as cleanly. Different lab benches might have different heights or widths, hoses might not connect through the same part of the furniture, or the power supply might be located on different sides.

Consistency with design and operation also matters if you need a flexible lab design with lots of moving parts. With a single brand of dedicated lab furniture (and especially if it features industrial-strength caster wheels like IonBench), you can easily move people and processes around your lab without needing to instruct staff on how to use the different benches. Plus, if you buy an attractive line of benches (again, like IonBench), they just all look great in your lab.

Bulk purchasing can also work with dedicated lab furniture. If you’re outfitting a new lab design from scratch, ordering all your benches from one dedicated specialist can save you money in volume discounts, delivery, and time you would otherwise have spent negotiating with a variety of manufacturers.

So are you working up a new lab design? Is it time to upgrade your fleet of dedicated lab furniture? Reach out to Tim Hawkins today (at 1-888-669-1233 or via email) and he can help you see why choosing a single type of dedicated lab furniture is a sound investment.

Tales from the Lab: Lab Safety and Cleaning Your Dedicated Lab Furniture

Periodically, we post about lab accidents as part of our mission to promote lab safety and its connection to our line of dedicated lab furniture. Seldom, however, does a lab safety accident occur that dovetails with our previous posts in such a clear and compelling fashion as this one. In this case, a lab accident, which fortunately wasn’t disastrous, clearly illustrates the need to carefully and completely follow cleaning protocol.

What Happened?

This incident involved a researcher was preparing his lab for sterile work by wiping down his lab bench with a diluted mix of ethanol. We outline this process in this post about keeping your dedicated lab furniture sparkling clean. This researcher used the correct 70% ethanol mixture and a paper towel, as we outline in our instructions.

Unfortunately, he did not dispose of the paper towel properly when he was finished. Instead, he left it sitting on an adjacent desk. After letting the lab bench dry, he lit a Bunsen burner on the bench. The fumes from the paper towel were close enough that it caught fire when he lit the burner.

The researcher acted quickly, using a handy beaker and water to extinguish the flames. This, unfortunately, generated enough smoke to set off the fire alarm. He properly cleaned up the area and evacuated the lab, seeking out fire responders to let them know what had happened, and that the situation had been contained and resolved.

What Else This Lab Safety Accident Revealed

Naturally, there was an investigation of the incident and what could be learned from the mistakes that were made. The researcher used water, but smothering the flames is recommended. The researcher was wearing a plain white lab coat, not a flame-resistant lab coat. As a result, new lab safety procedures were put in place to require a flame-resistant coat when working with flammable materials and Bunsen burners. A fire safety drill was performed to remind all staff of appropriate protocol and procedures.

What Lessons Were Learned about Cleaning Dedicated Lab Furniture

Additional suggestions and precautions are revealed by this lab safety accident. If ethanol catches fire, it should be smothered with a dry cloth. Your dedicated lab furniture, as well as any other furniture in the vicinity, should be examined for flammable materials before lighting a Bunsen burner. After cleaning your lab bench, make certain all ethanol has evaporated before proceeding with any further tasks. Make certain all ethanol has evaporated from your gloves as well—or, better yet, properly dispose of the gloves and the paper towel used after you clean your lab bench. Only then should you proceed with handling any burners or flammable materials.

As we noted in our prior post, ethanol is both an effective and a cost-effective cleaner. However, it is only a good cleaner for your dedicated lab furniture when it is used properly. When you make lab safety is your primary objective, and focus clearly on the tasks at hand, you can maintain a safe work environment and avoid lab safety accidents like the one above.

We make lab safety our primary objective with many elements of our IonBench MS, including strong caster wheels for safe movement and accessibility, vacuum pump enclosures to reduce noise, and a rough pump overheat protection alarm. To learn more about the safety features of our IonBenches, contact Tim Hawkins via email or at 1-888-669-1233.

More Lab Design Tips for a Functional Workspace

Every lab has its own unique set of specs and of challenges, but there are some principles at play that everyone can benefit from understanding. Here are five more tips to create functional lab workspaces.

1.    Synchronize Your Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical

No lab design is complete without making all the right connections. We mentioned last time the importance of ensuring proper ventilation. The same is true of the other building-wide systems that will interact with your lab. Coordinate with plumbing to make certain pipes don’t interfere with the placement of your dedicated lab furniture.

Place electrical outlets where needed, both for current configurations and possible future reorganizations of your equipment. Modern architectural programs even include clash-detection programs; use them to make certain you are designing the best possible layout for wired and connected equipment.

2.    Keep Your Lab Cool

All working machines produce heat, so another consideration in the lab design phase is where heat will be generated and whether there is sufficient cooling appropriately placed. If not, you run the risk of shortening the life of your instruments — or even outright damaging them — as well as making your lab an uncomfortable place to work.

3.    Plan Safe Storage into Your Lab Design

Avoid the dangerous possibility of lab techs using fume hoods as storage spots (we’ve all seen it!). Make certain you order sufficient dedicated lab furniture of the appropriate types for secure storage of hazardous chemicals and gases. Plan placement of your storage units to avoid the possibility of cross-contamination and for efficient workflow.

4.    Invest in Flexible Dedicated Lab Furniture

It can be frustrating to need to rearrange your lab — but it’s inevitable. Processes and priorities change, instruments are upgraded, and new protocols are put in place. Make this easier on yourself by investing in movable dedicated lab furniture whenever possible. Our IonBenches come with superior strength caster wheels, making moving easier even with heavy equipment. Purchasing a height-adjustable lab bench allows you to easily connect your HPLC with a new and differently configured mass spec.

5.    Check all Clearances

No, we’re not talking about security clearances here, though that might also need to be part of some lab design specs. Here we’re talking about the space you need to maneuver your dedicated lab furniture around your facility. Is there enough clearance to get a certain lab bench through a doorway, down a hallway, or around a corner? Review every possible pathway for your instruments and ancillary machinery, from an entry point to your building, all the way to each lab that might use that piece of equipment. This way, you will ensure that any instrument can be moved or removed as needed.

If you have questions or want more tips on how to set up the perfect lab with dedicated lab benches, contact Tim Hawkins now at 1-888-669-1233 or by email.

Lab Design Tips for a Functional Workspace: Part 1

We all know that a poorly designed engine will not perform efficiently. The same is true with lab design. Awkward layouts, incompatible pieces of dedicated lab furniture, and tight or wasted space can all affect the efficiency of your processes. Here are five lab design tips to create functional lab workspaces.

1.    Get Everyone on Board

No lab is going to function at its best if all stakeholders are not involved in its design. Begin with an all-hands-on-deck kickoff meeting, but don’t let it end there. Keep people at all levels of the organization involved throughout the lab design process. Encourage additional input. In fact, invite staff to think about processes as they work and talk with maintenance concerning what does and doesn’t work smoothly after lab techs have left for the day. Brainstorming new solutions to existing problems can ensure a more efficient work environment for the long haul.

2.    Start Your Lab Design with a Focus on Control Areas

One key component of a successful lab design is appropriate separation of hazardous and combustible materials. List all current chemicals used, but also brainstorm where research and trajectories are taking your lab processes, so that you can control chemical interactions in the future as well as with current projects. Include careful consideration of code and safety requirements as well. Be certain to design storage areas to meet your needs and be sure to purchase sufficient dedicated lab furniture for the safe storage of all types of hazardous chemicals.

3.    Size Your Space to Meet Present and Future Needs

If you’ve ever worked in an older lab, you know how frustrating it can be when the footprint of your equipment has grown, necessitating larger and more complex lab furniture. Often, the space becomes crowded and staff find it difficult to navigate safely through cramped work areas. When creating a new lab design, allow plenty of space for not just any lab furniture, but the latest, safest dedicated lab benches that can account for the maneuvering on heavy-duty caster wheels (such as our IonBenches) for an HPLC or other peripheral machines that are used episodically or need to be repositioned throughout the lab.

4.    Organize Your Space to Ensure Proper Ventilation

Modern HVAC systems can pull quite a bit of air through a space. This can be a boon for proper ventilation—or a nightmare if improperly installed. Make certain that lab pressurization will meet safety standards. Ensure that the location of fume hoods and live flames will not intersect with HVAC systems in such a way as to cause fumes to escape containment, and potentially spread throughout your building or the HVAC system, blowing out or suddenly expanding a live flame, which would result in a dangerous lab accident.

5.    Get a Complete and Comprehensive Equipment List

Another reason for involving all stakeholders in your lab design (see tip #1 above) is the need to get a comprehensive equipment list. Once you know all the equipment that must be place in your lab design, you can design a complete layout and work with a dedicated lab furniture vendor like us to install lab benches and ancillary furniture that will support each workstation in your new lab design.

This is why we encourage you to contact Tim Hawkins now via email or at 1-888-669-1233. He can discuss the importance of consistency provided by installing dedicated lab furniture from a single vendor that will integrate seamlessly to support lab processes.

Also, stay tuned for our next post, which will share five more tips for designing a functional lab workspace.

Keeping Dedicated Lab Furniture Sparkling Clean without Breaking the Bank

There are many ways that you can successfully extend the life of your lab benches. We have made recommendations before about how to properly care for your dedicated lab furniture and regularly clean the benches that hold your mass spectrometer and HPLC. This article focuses on an easy, cost-saving way to regularly clean without needing to purchase a handful of fancy products.

Clean Your Dedicated Lab Furniture Before Every Experiment and After Every Spill

We often hear people saying that time is of the essence — but that doesn’t mean you should skip cleaning your lab benches. Little can be more wasteful of time and money than a contaminated process or lab safety issue. This is why you should clean your dedicated lab furniture before every experiment or new process and after every spill or accident. In other words, as your mother might have taught you, clean early and often.

An Inexpensive Cleaning Solution for Your Dedicated Lab Furniture

While there are lots of specialized sanitizing solutions on the market, sometimes that’s not what’s required to keep your mass spectrometer lab bench properly clean. When it comes to sanitation, sometimes basic, familiar, relatively inexpensive products can do the job of expensive brand name cleaners. In this case, we recommend two diluted solutions: one of bleach, the other of ethanol.

To prepare the solutions, mix one-part bleach with nine-parts water in one container. In a second container, mix seven parts ethanol with three parts water. (You can safely store these solutions for later use, making cleanup a breeze.)

An Easy Process for Cleaning Your Mass Spectrometer and HPLC Benches

Once you have your solutions in place, the process for cleaning is straightforward.

First, if you have long hair, tie it back, out of the way. Also, secure or remove any dangling jewelry and ID lanyards. While these solutions might be simple, they are not necessarily kind to fine metals and plastics.

Second, put on latex gloves (or your non-allergenic alternative).

Third, remove all loose items from the mass spectrometer and HPLC benches. This includes pipettes, test tubes, beakers along with notes, pens, and anything else that has collected on your bench and shouldn’t be on the work surface anyway.

Fourth, take a paper towel, dip it in the diluted bleach solution, lightly squeeze it out, and use the paper towel to thoroughly wipe all surfaces of the bench.

Fifth, take a paper towel, dip it in the diluted ethanol solution, lightly squeeze it out, and use the paper towel to thoroughly wipe all surfaces of the bench.

Sixth, let the dedicated lab furniture dry thoroughly. While you wait, take the paper towel from the bleach solution and use it to wipe the bottoms (and, where appropriate, other surfaces) of those pipettes, test tubes, and beakers.

Seventh, finish the job correctly. Once the bench is dry, return your loose items to the clean lab bench. Close and store your bleach and ethanol solutions for use next time. Dispose of your gloves in a proper container.

Now you are ready to safely begin another process or experiment.

If you have any questions about cleaning your dedicated lab furniture, please contact lab bench expert Tim Hawkins at 1-888-669-1233 or by email.

Five HPLC Penny-Pinching Mistakes to Avoid

Every lab instrument comes with its own special set of instructions. While we recommend paying attention to the cautionary notes when first setting up mass specs and HPLCs, after a while, many labs might naturally begin to cut corners. This is especially true when budget season comes around and lab workers consider the cost of the various columns, filters and buffer bottles. These penny-pinching habits can cause much more expensive problems, however. That is why we thought it was time to remind everyone of five habits you should never develop, and should certainly break if you recognize yourself in this list.

1.    Never Use the Same HPLC Column for Multiple Methods

Let’s begin with the obvious: Don’t use the same column for different methods. Even if both methods call for the same column description, the possibility of carryover remains, even with the best of cleaning. We’ve heard that unimportant peaks from one method have ended up causing problems for a second method, even when the same product is used. Don’t risk the loss of an entire series of processes: use a different HPLC column for each method.

2.    Don’t Finalize a New Method with a Used Column

Yes, sometimes it’s useful to extend the life of a lightly used column by using it for screening columns during method development. However, once you’ve determined the right brand and model, move directly to working with new columns. Part of this is because of the chance for cross-contamination mentioned above. Another possibility is that prior methods can actually change the chemical composition of the used column. This can mean that a new column could prove incompatible with your process once the method of development has been completed.

3.    Never Mix Ion-Pairing and Non-Ion-Pairing Columns

Studies have shown that ion-pairing reagents can never successfully be completely removed from a column, even with regeneration procedures. Longer-chain sulfonates are particularly difficult to remove, even with 100% isopropanol or methanol. As with the caution above, chemical changes to the HPLC columns themselves are likely to take place.

4.    Don’t Top Off the Buffer Reservoir

Have you ever given any thought to how long it takes for microbes to start growing in acetate or phosphate? We hear that wise lab techs don’t use buffer from one bottle for more than one to two weeks. This means that, if you don’t replace the reservoir each time you add buffer, you’re inviting contamination, which is much more expensive than a new reservoir and buffer. Microbial contaminants are especially an issue with UHPLC because the columns use 0.2-μm porosity frits, which can often become clogged by bacteria.

5.    Don’t Throw Away Dollars by Pinching Pennies

Think about it this way: the time, effort, and materials expended in attempting to clean HPLC columns or buffer reservoirs for any reason will far outweigh the cost of new materials. After all, you can get 500 or more samples (some get even up to 1000) from each column before it begins to fail. In contrast, if a lab tech’s time costs the company $50 per hour (which is entirely possible, given the whole package of salary, benefits, training, and time off), the time spent cleaning filters or scrubbing columns is just not worth it—especially if cross-contamination cannot be ruled out.

Another way that too many labs pinch pennies and end up throwing away dollars is by failing to invest in dedicated lab furniture. If you don’t have dedicated lab furniture for your HPLC, this makes reservoir replacement and filling a much more dangerous process. With dedicated lab furniture such as our IonBench LC, you can raise and lower your HPLC with ease, optimizing configurations and preventing falls from stepstools or ladders.

To learn more about how IonBench LC can save you money and ensure lab safety in the long run, contact Tim Hawkins via email or at 1-888-669-1233.

Why NOT to Buy Your Dedicated Lab Furniture Where You Buy Your Mass Spectrometer

Sometimes a package deal can seem very appealing. Buying everything you think you need in one place can appear to be quick, easy, and convenient, especially when you’re purchasing large, heavy equipment like a new mass spectrometer. But there are three reasons why purchasing your dedicated lab furniture at the same place as your mass spec is not a smart move.

1.    Fit

Yes, it makes perfect sense that a mass spec manufacturer will provide dedicated lab furniture that perfectly fits its mass spectrometer product. But that’s not the only fit you need to consider. For starters, what about the configuration of your lab? Some modern mass specs are very tall. When the new MS is placed on the manufacturer’s stock dedicated lab furniture, will the combination fit your lab’s ceiling height? It would be pretty awkward to need to shave a couple of inches off that bench when it arrives.

Also, consider your workflow necessities. Are you wanting your HPLC to be on a separate cart—perhaps to easily move it between one lab and another? Then you might want your mass spectrometer on a smaller bench than the manufacturer provides.

What about your data system? Do you want it configured to the right or the left of your MS, or on a separate, connected desk entirely? Here at IonBench, we custom-craft every piece of dedicated lab furniture. We consult with you at the time of purchase, making whatever bench configuration changes are needed to accommodate safe and efficient workflow in your lab.

2.    Service

For mass spec manufacturers, lab benches are an accessory. For us, they are the primary focus of our work. Rather than making it a single line item on a three-page, six-figure quote, we put our dedicated lab furniture front and center. We will make certain that, in addition to your mass spectrometer, the design of your custom lab bench will consider placement and handling of the following: vacuum pumps, chromatographs, chillers, nitrogen generators, computers, monitors, UPS systems, printers, waste lines and power distribution.

3.    Value

Mass spec manufacturers are focused on the production and support of specialized machines that have both a high cost and high overhead to ensure technical perfection. From a practical standpoint, this can mean that their lab benches are manufactured and sold with less attention to detail and quality control, in part to support or offset the high overhead of MS production.

Our focus at IonBench is only on dedicated lab furniture. We are not concerned with the bottom-line of mass spec manufacturing. Our only goal is to create the best possible lab benches for your particular needs. This means we do not cut corners. We put all our attention into quality manufacturing because lab benches are our main concern. With lower overhead, our clients receive more “bang for the buck” with our dedicated lab furniture.

To learn more about why an investment in IonBench dedicated lab furniture is a worthwhile investment, contact Tim Hawkins via email or at 1-888-669-1233.

Lab Noise and Lab Safety: There’s an App for That

This blog frequently talks about the importance of managing lab noise. We’ve covered decibels and health risks associated with lab-safety accidents because too much lab noise can mask warnings and cause miscommunication at critical moments. But how do you know if your lab is too noisy?

What Is Your Experience with Lab Noise?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when wondering if noise is a problem in your lab:

  • When you leave the lab, do you sense humming or ringing in your ears?
  • Do you have to shout to be heard by a colleague who’s at the next closest workstation?
  • Do you experience temporary hearing loss when you leave the lab at the end of the day?

If you responded yes to any of these questions, then lab noise in your workplace may be a potential problem.

OSHA and NIOSH Workplace Noise Limits and Lab Safety

For all U.S. workers, OSHA has set standards and regulations for noise in the workplace. Exposure to noise should be kept below an equivalence level of 85 dBA for an entire eight-hour shift. For every sound level increase of 5 dBA over 90 dBA, the legal time limit is cut in half, which means you should only have to endure four hours in a 95-dBA work environment or two hours in a 100-dBA work environment.

Other organizations set stricter limits. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends less than fifteen minutes of exposure at the 85-dBA level per day and an exponential decrease in exposure time for every 3 dBA as opposed to 5 dBA.

If you are experiencing any of the lab-noise issues described above, you can take this to your supervisor and expect action. Ringing in the ears is unlikely to be taken as seriously as an objective measurement, but apps for that are now available.

Three Apps that Can Measure Lab Noise

While you might not have sophisticated instruments that measure noise in your lab, almost everyone has a smartphone these days. Here are three apps that measure lab-noise levels and provide a basic decibel reading, including statistics such as average-, low-, and peak-volume levels:

One thing to note is that standard smartphone microphones are not designed for precision measurements. If a basic reading concerns you, you may wish to invest in a sound-level meter to gather readings that will convince your supervisor of the seriousness of the situation. On the other hand, you can report your initial findings on your smartphone or tablet and suggest that your supervisor take it from there.

Dedicated Lab Furniture Reduces Lab Noise

One of the most efficient methods for reducing lab noise is installing dedicated lab furniture. Our IonBench MS sequesters MS roughing pumps and guarantees a 15-dBA reduction in noise levels. To learn more about IonBench, contact our dedicated lab-furniture expert. Tim Hawkins can be reached by email or at 1-888-669-1233.

How to Stay Sane in the Midst of Lab Noise

Sometimes, lab noise is unavoidable no matter how many steps you take to corral the racket, lower the volume, and soundproof with dedicated lab furniture. We’ve talked in the past about the many impacts of lab noise on lab techs, researchers, and other staff. But what can be done when lab noise isn’t dangerous, but still bothersome? Here are five suggestions about how workers can cope when lab noise levels impact productivity.

1.    Invest in Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Good noise-cancelling headphones were first developed to address the background hum associated with cars and airplanes. This means that modern noise-cancelling headphones are excellent choices for managing noise levels in your lab without also cancelling out intermittent sounds that could indicate a problem or an imminent lab accident.

Another way that headphones can assist with noise while not compromising lab safety is by using one earbud. This allows your brain to focus on the music or white noise coming through your headsets while still hearing voices of colleagues who may need your attention. (If you’re so tuned out to the lab around you that your colleague must tap you on the shoulder to get your attention, your resulting jump could become a safety incident in and of itself!)

2.    Take a Break and Step Out of the Lab Noise

Although OSHA has not addressed the issue of lunch and break periods (this belongs under labor-standards law), many organizations recognize that short breaks from work can improve concentration and productivity. With this in mind, if your lab’s noise is getting to you, step out, take a break, walk around the building (inside or out, depending on the weather), and reconnect with the world beyond your mass spec.

3.    Be Proactive about Lab Safety

Noise culprits are in every workplace. We all know who they are. They whistle while they work, they stop and chat at your workstation, they generally make themselves obvious—sometimes annoyingly so. If you know that you need to have less noise and more focus for a particular project that day, don’t be afraid to say something. “I’m slammed today, so I sure hope nothing breaks down and breaks my concentration,” you might say as you fill your cup at the water cooler or coffee maker. “Is your plate as full as mine?” In this way, you can clarify that you’re uninterruptible without calling attention to the culprit’s tendency to speak loudly, interrupt, and generally distract colleagues.

4.    Have the Talk when Necessary

If the indirect methods above don’t work, then don’t be afraid to have the noise safety conversation. It might be a Friday afternoon, and everyone around you is ramping up for the weekend and talking about their plans, but if all that lab noise creates a potential lab safety or concentration issue for you, don’t be afraid to speak up.

5.    Invest in Dedicated Lab Furniture

Investing in dedicated lab furniture that suppresses noise in your busy lab is the best way to keep lab noise below irritating or dangerous levels. Our IonBench MS completely isolates vacuum pumps, decreasing lab noise by 75%. When you invest in the right technology—even at the lab bench level—you invest in the focus and productivity of everyone who works in your lab. For more information about our dedicated lab furniture, contact Tim Hawkins today at tim.hawkins@farhawk.com or 1-888-669-1233.