NEWTON, MASS. – April 23, 2007 – For any company, institution or facility with a lab, documentation and training are key for keeping Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) programs up-to-date with current compliance standards, said Kevin Coghlan, Director of EH&S Compliance and Strategic Support at EH&E (www.ehehinc.com).
“Lab managers and safety officers know that compliance programs are becoming increasingly complex and challenging to maintain,” said Coghlan, “But the good news is that EH&E’s environmental health and safety experts have identified three proven strategies for improving program compliance deficiencies in any company or institution with a lab.”
The most common lab deficiencies that EH&E staff find during compliance reviews (or audits) at laboratories are driven by three root causes: safety violations in the lab, program organization and accessibility, and training deficiencies, Coghlan said.
To remedy these common pitfalls, Coghlan discusses proven strategies for resolution:
A common “hot spot” for lab compliance audits is safety violations, such as inadequate upkeep like improper storage or labeling of chemicals, improperly maintained satellite accumulation areas, improper use of personnel protective equipment, blocked aisles and exits, and inaccessible first aid and spill kits.
Rather than simply increasing the amount of classroom training for laboratory staff, Coghlan recommends a more effective method of instituting a schedule of regular, in-house laboratory inspections.
“Lab inspections can be a valuable teaching tool if used properly, but the success of these inspections is directly impacted by the presence of a feedback mechanism to document corrective actions and identify trends,” said Coghlan.
“If there are organization and accessibility issues, like missing or out-dated documents, permits, inspections, and data collection requirements, then consider implementing a readily accessible, organizational mechanism to improve the situation,” stated Coghlan.
In fact, EH&E developed such a program based on a Microsoft® SharePoint® platform that is used to manage many client EH&S compliance programs. Using this web-based, project collaboration tool, EH&E staff crafted a unique program management system that provides ready access to program information and program status.
“By far, the largest struggle we find in labs is with employee training requirements,” stated Coghlan.
Employee health and safety training is an essential part of meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Occupational Safety Health Administration compliance requirements. The inability of organizations to adequately train employees and maintain accurate training records are common deficiencies found by EH&E auditors.
“While most labs utilize a classroom approach to training, which can include, printed materials, videos, or games, a method that EH&E staff has found successful is to streamline employee training through a web-based training program. Web training improves overall compliance status by making the training convenient for employees and the automated management of training records minimizes the staff time needed for this regulatory requirement,” added Coghlan.
Due to the complexity and ever-changing nature of research activities, lab EH&S programs can be extremely challenging to develop and maintain.
“By analyzing the root causes of your laboratory deficiencies, strategies for improvement can be implemented to remedy the situation and keep the lab EH&S program in good standing,” said Coghlan.
For more information on these solutions, or to learn about how to obtain those developed by EH&E for use with your own program, visit http://www.eheinc.com/ehe_web_solutions.htm. Or, contact EH&E directly by phone: 1-800-825-5343 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
EH&E has provided an extensive range of environmental and engineering consulting services for over 18 years. Our team consists of more than 60 experts with an outstanding record of providing business-focused solutions for issues that affect the built environment. EH&E has a depth of knowledge and credibility unmatched in the industry and our wealth of readily-accessible information has become a powerful resource for our clients. Our new series of eH&E web compliance solutions is just the latest example of our continuing effort to provide this information to a wider range of companies.
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Tiziani Whitmyre, Inc.