Who is responsible for cleanliness and hygiene in laboratories?

clean-and-well-organized-laboratory-work-bench

Clean and well organized laboratory work bench

It is often quoted that cleanliness is next to godliness. This holds true in homes and commercial establishments but is of greatest significance in laboratories. It goes without saying that a clean and well controlled environment is absolutely necessary for generation of data with highest reliability and for high uptime of sensitive and sophisticated laboratory instruments.

Maintaining a clean laboratory is a joint responsibility of all laboratory personnel including management and laboratory chemists. It is not sufficient to entrust it solely to the sanitation workers and absolve yourself of your responsibilities. The article suggests simple steps and duties that all should take upon themselves for the upkeep of the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene in laboratories.

Sanitation Workers

Sanitation workers have a major role to play. The duties for upkeep of required sanitary standards should be allotted floor wise or section wise as the case may be. The workers should ensure that they have cleaning items such as brooms, mops, mopping sticks, water buckets, dustbins, detergents/ soaps and disinfectants. Any short supply should be replenished on priority from the stores section. Before starting their routine activities all sanitary staff should change to laboratory uniform to prevent outside contamination.

Floors should be cleaned with broom to remove dust and waste paper followed by mopping with clean wet mop. This should be followed by mopping with the soap/detergent solution (10 grams in 10 liters of water) followed by a wet mop soaked in pure water. In the microbiology section the floor should be finally mopped with a disinfectant such as dettol, phenyl or savlon to destroy the micro- organisms. It is important to use different disinfectants from time to time to prevent micro-organisms gaining immunity against a particular disinfectant.

The mopping and cleaning should be carried out before each shift and records giving time and name of sanitation worker be maintained on daily basis.

In addition to the floors periodic cleaning of electrical switches, fans, tube lights and air conditioner filters is necessary on fortnightly basis and records should be maintained. It is advisable to allocate the responsibility for cleaning of electrical appliances to the electrical maintenance staff as they are aware of precautions to be taken to avoid electrical accidents or damage to equipments.

Store and Warehouse Workers

Store and warehouse workers should exercise safe handling and proper storage of materials. They should clean up any accidental spills on priority.

Laboratory Chemists

  • Laboratory chemists play a major role in the upkeep of laboratory cleanliness and hygiene.
  • All chemists should wear recommended protective clothing, gloves, head covers, etc to prevent contamination of samples from their own self.
  • Outside shoes should be changed and laboratory slippers should be worn inside laboratories which should be changed when using washrooms and again be changed before entering the laboratories.
  • Laboratory shelves and benches, weighing balance tables should be kept clean at all times and any spillages should be attended to on priority.
  • Clean the instruments with dry lint free cloth daily before use. Do not leave cleaning of sophisticated instruments to sanitary staff as they can cause damage to instruments or cause accidents due to negligence.
  • Do not permit unauthorized entry into labs except for servicing engineers or auditors. Such visitors, like all laboratory staff, should also be permitted inside only with protective gear.
  • It would be a good idea to display cleanliness and hygiene posters and charts in laboratories like safety and other technical charts. This will serve to motivate all concerned to maintain highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene in laboratories.
About Dr. Deepak Bhanot

Dr Deepak Bhanot is a seasoned professional having nearly 30 years expertise beginning from sales and product support of analytical instruments. After completing his graduation and post graduation from Delhi University and IIT Delhi he went on to Loughborough University of Technology, UK for doctorate research in analytical chemistry. His mission is to develop training programs on analytical techniques and share his experiences with broad spectrum of users ranging from professionals engaged in analytical development and research as well as young enthusiasts fresh from academics who wish to embark upon a career in analytical industry.

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