WELCOME to the Safety Lady
Terry Jo Gile, MT(ASCP)MA Ed. is the Safety Lady®. With over 40 years experience as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, the last 25 spent specializing in laboratory safety, she literally wrote the book on clinical laborratory safety (Complete Guide to Laboratory Safety - Third Edition, published by HCPro). Terry Jo understands from her own vast experience just what is needed to help you create a safety savvy laboratory. more
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Many of you have asked about the GHS training - when it should be done and who needs to be trained. All training must be completed and documented by December 1, 2013. In addition to the laboratory staff, maintenance, environmental services and the receiving departments should be top priorities for training since they handle chemicals routinely.
To help with the training OSHA has a Quick Card that you can download and use as a poster or handouts to help employees remember the pictograms and hazards.
OSHA also has one that covers the information about the new SDS format.
2014 Academy for Lab Safety Excellence
Would YOU like the opportunity to take your laboratory safety program from good to great to AWESOME?
The Fifth Annual Academy for Lab Safety Excellence in 2014 will help you discover the secrets to lab safety that has taken others years to acquire. This Academy will:
Help you navigate the complex regulations that impact your world of laboratory safety
Provide a network of colleagues to help you solve your most challenging safety issues
Light Your Fire
By Dan Scungio, MT(ASCP), SLS
Suzanne was the safety officer for the laboratory, and since her husband was a firefighter, she believed her expertise was lab fire safety. When new employees came to the lab for orientation, she personally provided a fire safety overview which included hands-on fire extinguisher operation and training. She reviewed the acronym RACE (Rescue, Alarm, Contain, Extinguish or Evacuate), and she was never satisfied until her trainee had it memorized.
Over time Suzanne became busy with other duties in the laboratory, and the hospital no longer allowed her to discharge a fire extinguisher outside of the hospital. She looked at the CAP regulation which did not require hands-on extinguisher operation, but only “strongly recommended” it, so she decided to merely show the extinguisher to staff and describe its use.
The hospital was accredited by DNV, and when the inspectors came to the lab for the annual survey, they asked the lab staff what to do in the event of a fire. Suzanne was sure they knew the RACE acronym, but they all seemed to freeze in their tracks when asked the question. All of Suzanne’s years of hard work seemed to be for nothing when the inspectors cited the hospital because employees could not verbalize what to do in the event of a fire.
Many parts of the previous story are true. There was a hospital that trained their staff using RACE (which is a great standard acronym to use to help people remember how to respond to a fire). When the auditor asked staff what they would do in a fire situation, the staff did not respond. That may seem silly at first, but even though they could articulate RACE, they just did not make the connection to the acronym when asked about fire response.
The same connection may be missed when discussing the use of a fire extinguisher as well. The acronym PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) is often used, but ask an employee how to use an extinguisher and watch their reaction. If they are uncertain, you need to train more thoroughly. One good way to do this is to conduct fire drills in your area. October is National Fire Prevention Month, and it is a great time to have a drill!
Another point needs to be made about fire extinguisher training as well. The CAP General Checklist question does not mandate hands-on training, though they strongly recommend it. This does not mean that you do not need to provide this type of training. OSHA states that where the employer provides portable extinguishers for use in the workplace, the employer shall provide training which will familiarize employees with their use. Hands-on training can accomplish that. Fire extinguisher training should occur at least annually.
You can provide hands-on extinguisher training without actually discharging the unit. Train staff by having them pull the pin. Then have them replace the pin before aiming the nozzle and sweeping it. This is considered hands-on training, and there is no problem if discharging an extinguisher is not possible. If you can discharge one, take advantage of that and provide that training outside.
It is October, and if you haven’t considered fire safety training in a while, it’s time to light that particular fire. Talk about RACE and PASS (and discuss why you use them), conduct fire drills, and train staff to use the fire extinguishers. Laboratory fires are not uncommon, and with proper training, your staff can be ready if such an event occurs.
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