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Germany is the world’s fourth-largest chemical innovator after the US, China and Japan. However, research and development are regaining importance not just in the chemical sector, but also in other globally competitive industries. Companies today face many other challenges as well, including the need to operate sustainably, conserve resources, protect the environment and provide safe and healthy work environments. These trends have not stopped at the laboratory door, either.
The most important innovations today are the product of interdisciplinary collaboration spanning multiple industries and research areas. And this is only possible because departments, companies and institutions are more tightly connected than ever before. One proven way to promote interdisciplinary integration is to create open work environments that encourage informal interaction and constant cross-pollination with ideas and inspiration.
“Laboratories are much more tightly integrated in company processes than before – and so are far more innovative.”
Interdisciplinary collaboration is increasingly affecting how laboratories are set up and run, too. Conventional laboratories are giving way to open-space environments and multi-user models in which people work side-by-side on entirely different projects. In these new settings, employees can constantly share ideas and experiences in a casual, informal way with their colleagues at the next bench over. Whenever laboratory work processes change this dramatically, health, safety and environmental measures should adapt in response:
As a facility operator, you are responsible not only for designing your laboratory to be safe and environmentally sound but also for ensuring your employees’ health and safety. According to the German Civil Code, operator responsibilities fall to whoever owns the land or building, whether an individual or a legal entity.
“Environment, health, safety and sustainability are becoming increasingly important to corporate processes and significantly influence public perception of brands.”
The requirements that operators have to meet cover, without limitation, fire protection, life safety, noise control, machine stability, traffic safety, plants that require special safety monitoring and protecting employees from electric shock as well as hazards posed by work equipment or dangerous substances. In addition, environmental issues such as immission control, soil protection, water and air pollution control, and proper waste and wastewater disposal are also the laboratory operator’s responsibility.
Delegating duties to competent experts
The upshot of all these requirements is this: Few laboratory operators can handle all the operator responsibilities themselves. They simply lack the time and specialized knowledge to do so. Instead, they generally delegate the direction and supervision of laboratory operations to various people – senior executives, line managers and the laboratory staff doing the work itself.
“The laboratory work environment as well as government requirements for operations have grown more complex in recent years.”
Many new usage models have sprouted up alongside traditional biological, chemical and physics laboratories, further complicating operators’ responsibilities to the point where laboratory staff can no longer easily do them on the side. The pros and cons of various solutions, each presenting its own special set of environmental, health and safety requirements, can only be properly understood by experts who do this kind of work every day. At that point, it only makes sense to draw on the expertise of a partner who is deeply experienced in laboratory facility management – partly to circumvent unknown pitfalls but also to constantly optimize and streamline internal (laboratory) processes.
Handing off operator responsibilities to a specialized laboratory service provider can help your business in countless ways by allowing you to:
The special laboratory equipment found in interdisciplinary state-of-the-art open-space and multi-user facilities imposes greater responsibilities on operators and requires more extensive health and safety measures based on:
Laws and regulations on laboratory health and safety represent a minefield of ever-changing requirements that you have to constantly track in order to avoid unnecessary expense, reworking and inconveniences when seeking permits or certifications. Infraserv’s experts for laboratory facility management are fully conversant with all current regulations and will gladly advise you.
As a laboratory operator, your responsibility for your employees’ health, safety and physical integrity involves much more than the obvious health and safety measures, regular inspections and proper training.
“The thicket of laws, rules and regulations for different laboratory categories has become inscrutable to almost everyone except true specialists in the field.”
Your top priority is obviously the safety of your staff, products and the environment. That entails not only providing good protective equipment in day-to-day operations but also instituting a comprehensive, meticulously designed and well-rehearsed emergency management program. Are you sure that your business is prepared for all potential incidents and that your employees have drilled the required processes enough and can immediately provide first aid if needed?
The most efficient way to ensure health and safety is to delegate key tasks to highly trained people at key interfaces in order to provide the best possible level of safety at the most sensitive points in the laboratory. Certain activities should only be performed by duly authorized people who have all the requisite permits and approvals.
What is the best way for you to prepare for laboratory emergencies? Experts can help you develop the right strategy for your needs.
Get prepared for emergencies – schedule a consultation today!
Combining health, safety and environmental protection in a modern-day laboratory is clearly a complex challenge that can tie up a lot of resources in your organization. As an experienced partner and problem-solver in laboratory facility management, Infraserv will put its decades of experience to work for you – with individually scaled service packages for all areas of your laboratory as well as all the knowledge that our health and safety experts and radiation protection supervisors have accumulated over the years.
Schedule a no-obligation consultation with our experts today!
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