Cleanliness is an absolute necessity in homes and workplaces. It plays a much greater role in laboratories due to safety concerns and for greater reliance on quality of results. The overall operational efficiency of the laboratory improves significantly through cleanliness and orderly arrangement of laboratory chemicals and other items.
The benefits offered by clean laboratories are highlighted below:
Freedom from Contamination
Modern analytical techniques provide highly reliable and accurate results provided the samples are stored under prescribed environmental conditions and care is exercised to prevent cross -contamination from other samples, extraneous dust or due to vicinity of other chemicals
Cross contamination is minimized by making special arrangements such as proper unidirectional flow of filtered air, use of protective clothing by laboratory analysts, change of street- foot wear with laboratory foot wear and ensuring all samples are stored in leak- free containers or polythene packs.
Improvements in Work Efficiency
Laboratory cleanliness and hygiene contribute immensely to the overall efficiency of laboratory operations. You will feel motivated in a well organized laboratory environment and your precious time is saved in locating required reagent bottles, glassware, etc or moving around in clutter free isles between work benches. Additionally the precious bench space gets freed for carrying out analysis work.
Prevention of Breakages
Items and reagents kept haphazardly on laboratory workbenches are prone to breakages due to careless handling and rollover from the bench tops.
Less breakages and saving in time due to ease of locating analysis requirements results in greater efficiency and higher sample throughputs. In other words lower costs are incurred in arranging replacements and re-ordering of reagents, glassware or spares which are available but not easily traceable.
Maintaining a clean laboratory is a specialist task which cannot be entrusted to unskilled housekeeping work force. Specially trained housekeeping team is required which has awareness on handling of hazardous spills, handling of hazardous chemicals and training on cleaning of sophisticated instrumental facilities. Cleaning schedules should be laid down for periodic cleaning in sensitive areas like trace metal laboratories to ensure freedom of contamination which can otherwise seriously impact the analysis results.
As a responsible laboratory worker you should consider it your prime responsibility to maintain a clean laboratory environment by religiously following the guidelines outlined below:
- Clean the weighing balance pans and powder spills, if any, around the balance after weighing your samples
- Keep all reagent bottles and chemicals in their respective place after use
- After use keep burettes, pipettes, measuring cylinders, flasks and other glassware after cleaning in their designated stands. This practice will minimize breakages.
- All laboratory spills should be attended to on top priority as these can lead to serious injury or hazard to others around you
- Leave the workbench clean at the end of the day. It will save time required for arranging your workspace the following day
Cleanliness of the laboratory is a joint responsibility of the entire laboratory team and cannot be entrusted to housekeeping alone. As a responsible person you need to make your sincere efforts towards maintaining your laboratory a clean workplace environment.