Safe Enough?

Volume 9 Issue 5 | June 2014

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Cover Story

Safe Enough?

By

According to a recent OSHA publication, there are more than 500,000 workers employed in laboratories in the United States.1 And as lab managers, you know that laboratories can be potentially dangerous places to work.

Featured Articles

Sections

Editor's Buzz

Time and Money

Running out of time or money is something most of us strive to avoid. In business, as in life, the goal is to save as much of both as you can. This month we look at a few ways to achieve that goal in your lab. Let’s start with time.

Lab Health and Safety

The Fifth Annual Laboratory Safety Survey

Last year we reported a distressing decline in nearly every area of laboratory safety practices among the nearly 600 respondents who participated in the survey.

Business Management

Rank Your Priorities

Human behavior is difficult to figure out. For example, take the way we all tend to treat “priorities.” We all have them, and we instinctively know that some of them are much more important than others. Such as our families. The people we love. That novel we’d like to write. That project we’d like to tackle that could lead to a cure for cancer.

Leadership and Staffing

Business Management

Managing Surplus Assets

Much has been written about the business benefits of outsourcing “noncore” activities, and this approach is now well-established in most chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech companies. By concentrating on core areas and working with specialists for other tasks, costs are better managed, efficiency is boosted, and ROI (return on investment) is increased.

Laboratory Technology

Surge Suppression

It is a summer afternoon and dark clouds are rolling in. You notice that outside your laboratory windows the lightning strikes are getting closer. Your first thought is to back up your data. Your second thought is to shut down your $50,000 spectrometer so electrical surges from lightning strikes don’t kill the sensitive electronics.

Ask the Expert

Choosing the Right Option for Laboratory Services

Ike Harper, director for laboratory innovation at Johnson & Johnson, talks to contributing editor Tanuja Koppal, PhD, about the advantages of consolidating lab services with one provider. He explains in greatdetail the steps taken at J&J to ensure that the right process and vendor were put in place in order to give the program the time and opportunity it needed to succeed. He emphasizes the need for external validation as well as internal communication and collaboration to get the necessary buy-in and support from the key people involved.

Lab Health and Safety

Watch Your Step!

Research facilities, especially laboratories, are challenging places to work safely. This month, the Safety Guys alert you to potentially significant physical hazards present in the workplace.

Lab Health and Safety Tips

Product Focus

Aerodynamics and Accessories

Two features add efficiency, safety, and ease of use. I’ve worked in hoods where a little piece of tissue paper attached to the bottom of the sash served as an indicator that it was exhausting the air. Somehow, that sounds like a prehistoric lab by today’s standards. Granted, it was a while ago, but I wasn’t using a dinosaur-era device.

Diverse, Complimentary Techniques

Particle sizing methodologies range from straightforward sieving and sedimentation analysis to advanced laser-based light scattering techniques, microscopy/imaging, nanoparticle tracking analysis, and others.

Happy Birthday, UHPLC

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Waters’ (Milford, MA) debut of the ACQUITY UPLC®, the trademarked original on which all modern UHPLC systems, to various degrees, are modeled.

Research-Specific Labs

Exploring an Unseen World

All around us is an invisible world that, while most people don’t often think about it, has big effects on our own. As principal investigator (PI) of the Michigan Geomicrobiology Lab in the University of Michigan’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Gregory Dick and his staff get to explore that world each day, studying how microorganisms influence larger Earth processes.

INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS on Liquid Handling Systems

Equipment for dispensing and aspirating liquids runs the gamut from handheld pipettes that cost less than $100 to mid-range benchtop units to complex, fully robotic systems that cost $1 million or more.

How it Works

How Automating Agarose Gel Fragment Selection and Sample Analysis Works

Problem: Molecular biology relies on the ability to precisely target and amplify nucleic acids, and next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms and cloning reactions benefit from precise size selection and analytical characterization of samples. For decades, researchers have used electrophoresis with agarose gels for both size selection and fragment-length distribution assessment of DNA samples for downstream assays.

How it Works

Better Research Data Management

Problem: Researchers and scientists generate and collect vast amounts of data in their work, whether they are running experiments in the lab or surveying and interviewing people on the street. Researchers typically don’t deal with their research outputs until towards the end of the research cycle, when poor organization and data management can be difficult to manage and address, but causes the most problems. Poor data management results in experiments that are harder to replicate and findings that may be called into question. Papers can be retracted, careers impacted and ultimately science can suffer. When researchers move on they may pass their work to others in their research group, where poor data management results in the group inheriting indecipherable written notes they cannot use.

Laboratory Technology

Surveys

2014 Lab Balance Survey Results

Choosing the correct balance for your application, or a series of balances that suit all of your application needs, is the first step in good lab weighing practices. If you choose the correct balance, calibrate it regularly, including any time the balance is moved to a new location, and keep it clean, your balance will reward you with many years of accurate operation. 

2014 UV-Vis Spectrophotometer Survey Results

Ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectrophotometry is arguably the most common as well as one of the oldest forms of absorption-based analysis. UV and visible regions of the electromagnetic spectrum are contiguous: UV wavelengths range from 10 to 4000 angstroms; they are visible from 4000 to 7000 angstroms.

2014 Vacuum Pumps Survey Results

Vacuum pumps are an essential piece of equipment and are used in a wide variety of processes in most laboratories. Over the past 25 years, it has become apparent that vendors have made significant innovative improvements to vacuum pumps, with important developments in high vacuum technology, corrosion resistance, vacuum control, and improvements in the efficiency and ecological impact of vacuum pumps.

Maintenance Matters

Maintenance Matters: Lab Washers

For something so instrumental to keeping glassware clean, it only makes sense that maintaining the cleanliness of your lab washer is one of the keys to keeping it running properly.

Products in Action

Fighting for Lab Safety with S.C.A.T. Europe

After 15 years of constant improvement, S.C.A.T. SafetyCaps belong to the global safety standard in pharmaceutical and chemical laboratories. They enable operators to get solvent vapors under control and create perfect solvent conditions for their HPLC systems. The automated caps think ahead and fight health and environmental hazards directly at their origin - the solvent receptacle.