A Holistic Approach to Lab Safety at AIHce 2016

An in-depth session featured a team of speakers showcasing different aspects of lab safety and design.

BALTIMORE -- Arguably one of the biggest topics at AIHce this year is lab safety; with multiple technical sessions dedicated to the subject, it's clear that proper protection from lab incidents is on the mind of many of the attendees at the show.

Kicking off a session titled, "Laboratory Design, Construction, and Commissioning: Role of IH, Challenges, and Lessons Learned," was Jeffery Nesbitt, MS, CSP, CIH, from the Mayo Clinic. Nesbitt discussed the NIOSH philosophy of prevention through design, and the importance of being proactive. He recommended using standards to guide the design process, followed by quality measures to ensure proper components were installed.

Next, Charlyn Reihman, MPH, CIH, of SafeBridge Consultants, discussed the fact that there are more potent drugs being worked on than ever before, and therefore pharmaceutical labs need proper attention. There are a number of factors to take into consideration, ranging from engineering and work practices to PPE. Many of Reihman's examples cited the idea that PPE is neither a one-stop-shop, nor an afterthought when designing and implementing procedures into a safety lab.

Following Reihman was Kwahn Ahn, a professor and researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. His lighthearted, yet extensive, look into fume hoods and their performance yielded a surprising result: lab employees that stand still near a fume hood actually hinder the performance of a hood and its air flow qualities more than an employee that is in constant motion; something he attributed to air's "lazy" tendencies.

After that, William Mele of Chemistry and Industrial Hygiene conducted a back-and-forth with the audience to determine the cause of a "goo" leakage into fume hoods. The audience was engaged with the topic as Mele highlighted the need to balance the total exhaust in the lab with the air that is coming into the hood.

Finally, Matt DI Fahim of North Carolina State University discussed the common mistakes associated with installing eyewash and safety shower stations. While seemingly common sense, it was surprising to see the number of eyewash stations that failed to take into account location, lack of drain, possible electrical dangers, and other hazards.

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