Safety Tips

Selecting the Right Enclosure for Your Laboratory

Vented or ductless enclosures are some of the most important tools in the laboratory for controlling exposure.

In this article, we’re going to teach you how to select the right enclosure for your laboratory, using expertise from our consulting safety officers.

Selecting the appropriate enclosure for the work being conducted is extremely important for employee safety and is a task that requires more review and assessment than one might initially think.

There are many types of enclosures available, including ventilated balance enclosures (VBEs), glove boxes, downdraft tables, and ductless fume hoods.

First and foremost, you must take into consideration the hazards of the material being used.

  • Is it a potent compound?
  • Is it an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API)?
  • Maybe it’s simply a particularly hazardous stock chemical?

The first step in the selection process is to review the safety data sheets (SDS) or other safety information documents available for the material being used to determine the hazards involved.

Vendors can also […]

Is Your Facility Prepared for an Emergency?

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM)! NPM is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster planning now and throughout the year.

The 2020 theme is Disasters Don’t Wait- Make your Plan Today.

The same principles promoted for NPM apply to prepare for workplace emergencies. Specifically, starting with an up-to-date Emergency Action Plan!

Emergency Action Plans and Contingency Plans are required by various regulations, including  OSHA 29 CFR 1910.38 and 157, Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code 527 CMR 1.0, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 310 CMR 30.000.

It’s important to know if your facility is required to have an Emergency Action Plan or a Contingency Plan because regulators will look for the appropriate implementation during inspections.

All employees must have access to the written Plan and be trained on it. It’s critical that everyone be well-versed in proper response procedures should an incident occur! It’s good practice to hold drills for the […]

MassDEP Hazardous Waste Management Guidance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) recently amended its April 8, 2020 Hazardous Waste Management Guidance During the State of Emergency for the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Effective August 26, 2020, MassDEP is implementing the following amended guidance resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic for the items noted below related to hazardous waste management. Learn what you need to do in order to comply with the new regulation:

  • Compliance with hazardous waste container and tank inspection requirements for Small Quantity Generator (SQG) and Large Quantity Generator (LQG) facilities (described at 310 CMR 30.686 and 30.696, respectively) if the facility is closed during the State of Emergency- A facility that is normally subject to container and tank inspection requirements but is closed during the State of Emergency, should make every reasonable effort to do applicable daily/weekly inspections. If employers have concerns about having their employees onsite to do the inspections, then they should contact the DEP at […]

Ventilation in the Time of COVID-19

In our last Industrial Hygiene blog, Airflow in the Laboratory, we discussed the importance of evaluating the airflow of a lab as a whole, and that there’s no one magic ACH (Air Change per Hour) number that automatically makes the lab safer.

With the recent discussion around the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the role that airborne transmission may play, this subject has now reached mainstream media. So should indoor spaces such as labs and offices increase their air changes? And can we treat the air to make it safer?

Everyone is looking for a way back to “normal” and assessment of the ventilation in a space is one key factor to consider.

Case Study: The First Evidence of Airborne Transmission

The first evidence of airborne transmission was from a restaurant in Guangzhou, China. One patron was positive for COVID-19, and became the index case-patient, infecting 9 other customers. These customers were not necessarily closer in proximity to the […]

Protect Your Eyes from Blue Light

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, Prevent Blindness has deemed March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month. This non-profit organization is currently promoting awareness about the dangers of blue light exposure from computers, televisions, and device screens including smartphones and tablet screens. Recent studies suggest that long-term exposure to the blue light emitted from these screens can cause digital eye strain with eye fatigue and dry eyes that can in some cases lead to eye problems like macular degeneration from damage to the cornea.

The largest source of blue light is sunlight. However, there is concern over the long-term effects of screen exposure because of the close proximity of the screens and the length of time spent looking at them, both during the workday and after.

So what can you do to protect your eyes from blue light?

  1. Screen time:Try to decrease the amount of time spent in front of screens and/or take frequent breaks to […]

OSHA Safe + Sound Week

The fourth annual OSHA Safe + Sound Week is being held August 10-16, 2020. This national event is intended to promote the value of workplace health and safety programs. Employers are encouraged to hold events and activities that highlight the elements of their health and safety program during this week. It has been a huge success at Safety Partners’ clients who have participated in previous years!

Why participate?
Participating in the program is a great way to recognize your safety successes and show your commitment to safety! During the COVID-19 pandemic, occupational safety and health programs have never been more important, and this is a perfect time to reinforce yours.

It’s also a great opportunity to raise awareness of your safety program in a fun and engaging way. Participating in Safe + Sound Week can help get your program started, energize an existing one, and provide a chance to recognize your safety successes.

Remember- safe workplaces are sound businesses. […]

Don’t Be So Sensitive: Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Lab Research

Safety Partners is thrilled to announce the publication of its 5th edition of 

“Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research.” 

This collection of real life safety lessons has just been mailed to clients and many friends.  Look for it in your (actual) mailbox!

To celebrate this milestone 5th publication, we are sharing a full story here, written by

Kristin Garland, CIH, Associate Director, Industrial Hygiene and QRT at Safety Partners.

Request your copy at info@safetypartnersinc.com

Don’t be so sensitive…

Working as a safety officer, I can interact with many laboratory professionals, at all different levels, and people of highly diverse backgrounds. When providing chemical training to clients, one thing I always talk about is chemical sensitivities. Many people don’t realize that some people are inherently more sensitive to chemicals than others [1]. Just as some people have the ability to taste PTC (phenylthiocarbamide — a compound that tastes very bitter to people […]

Work from Home Ergonomics

Where are you working nowadays? If you said “the dining room table” or “the couch”, you’re not alone and this blog post is for you.

Ergonomics is about optimizing human performance, not just “sitting up straight”. Let’s face it: we could all use a little more ergonomics in our lives. It’s important to ensure good ergonomics to prevent injuries and promote wellness.

Here are some tips that can help improve your ergonomic setup without a lot of fancy (and expensive) equipment:

  • Choose your work area. Working from the couch may seem great until you start experiencing back issues from straining to look at your laptop down on your lap. It’s better to choose a work surface you can fit comfortably under and which is the right height for you.
  • Support your body. Don’t sit on the edge of your chair – allow the back of your chair to support your back. This will help prevent fatigue and […]

Chemical Sensitivities in Lab Employees

Safety Partners’ is about to release our 5th version of Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research which includes a real-life story of a lab employee who developed a chemical sensitivity to a commonly used lab chemical. She experienced allergy-like symptoms when exposed at exposures below established Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) for this chemical, while her colleagues exposed to the same levels exhibited no adverse effects. It should be noted however, that OELs, including OSHA PELs and ACGIH TLVs, have been established for the protection of the average healthy worker and may not be protective of more sensitive populations including those with chemical sensitivities.

What is Chemical Sensitivity?

Chemical sensitivity is a physiological response that occurs in an individual following exposure to a chemical at levels that would not affect the vast majority of people.  Often chemical sensitivity can present as allergic type reactions including scratchy throat, watery eyes, and runny nose. In other instances, headache, rashes, […]

New OSHA Guidance on Returning to Work

On June 18th, OSHA issued Guidance on Returning to Work to assist employers reopening non-essential businesses and their employees returning to work during the Coronavirus pandemic. The guidance supplements OSHA’s previously published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. The guidelines are consistent with the requirements outlined in the Massachusetts Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces and recommend that employers continue to focus on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training.

OSHA’s Guidance on Returning to Work includes a section on Employer Frequently Asked Questions. Some of the questions asked have been coming up at our clients, so I thought it would be helpful to share a few. The responses below are summaries, and the OSHA guidance document should be referred to for the full responses.

Can employers conduct work site SARS‑CoV-2 testing?

Yes. Employers may consider implementing strategies to reduce risks to the safety and […]