Increase Lab Safety with Periodic Cleanup Days

Do you limit deep cleans of your lab to a once-per-year purge? Or end-of-semester clear out? When lab cleanups are so few and far between, they can become a daunting undertaking. Months of stock-piled chemical inventory, research files, and dust not only take a few days of dedicated effort to get through, they keep lab staff away from important work.  
  
By scheduling periodic cleanup days throughout the year, you can create a systematic process that makes your team more effective in less amount of time. Frequent cleanup days also increase the safety of your lab by twofold: hazards are dealt with more often, and staff is more aware of the state of the lab.  

The following are five basic tasks worth incorporating into your regular routine to ensure all components of your lab are structurally integral, and lab safety is retained:     

1.
Know your safety hazards 
It is expected that industrial labs and academic facilities will accumulate diverse chemicals and safety equipment that go without use for long periods of time. That plastic bottle of hydrochloric acid that's been in the back of the store room for years may not have requisite structural integrity. The same goes for expired safety equipment as components become less trustworthy. 

2. Create a digital, searchable database
Create an inventory database in a spreadsheet or using online software so that it is easily maintained and searchable. This will help you keep track of how long certain products have been in the lab, prepare a schedule for when it needs to be replaced or disposed of, and identify how often products are being used. Keeping these real-time records helps automate cleanup days, and keeps the entire staff in the know.    

3. Tackle one area at a time
With more frequent and pre-planned cleanup days, you can focus on one area of the lab at a time, then rotate around the lab throughout the year. This strategy allows for a deeper clean at each area and a less-burdensome inventory update. It’s overall more productive than a general sweep. Use your database to ensure expired items are removed and properly disposed of.  

4. Properly handle hazardous materials
All hazardous materials and chemicals should be in environments that are safeguarded as much as possible against natural environmental degradation. When there are minor spills, clean them immediately with spill neutralizers such as Amphomag®. Amphomag® is a rapid response chemistry that safely adsorbs and treats spills, eliminating the possibility of incorrect application of spill cleanup agents or overdosing. Always use personal protective equipment when dealing with hazardous materials, and call 911 immediately should a spill occur that is beyond your ability to handle. Download our free spill cleanup infographic here. 

5. Proper training
Document your lab’s guidelines and procedures in a lab safety manual and incorporate the scheduled cleanup days into an ongoing lab management program. Every lab worker should know and understand their roles and responsibilities when it comes to organization, inventory, spill cleanup, and care and maintenance. Check out our tips for lab safety training, then download our free worksheet.    

Perpetual safety
Materials break down over time. Categorizing them, being trained in their use, properly handling them, and cleaning up after yourself will definitely help ensure such breakdown doesn't negatively affect your academic or industrial operations. Establishment of a regular cleaning regimen will improve and promote continued lab safety.