Start 2020 with some great lab life initiatives!

Little things can make a big difference to any lab and you don’t have to make huge gestures to see a real improvement.  Here are our top 20 tips for 2020 which could help to put you in better shape for the next decade.

  • Encourage communication amongst lab mates. Not only does this lead to a more harmonious atmosphere, but sharing good practice can lead to a more efficient lab too.
  • Turn off any electrical equipment when its not in use. This will not only help the environment but will also help to minimise your energy bills.
  • Keep a training log and make sure everybody’s up to date. Well trained staff are the backbone of an efficient lab.
  • Write everything down (digitally). Keep log books in ship-shape fashion and easily legible to everyone.  Avoid using your own shorthand; an efficient lab allows anybody to step in and understand protocols as necessary.
  • Minimise the use of paper. A precious resource which clutters our labs and frustrates openness amongst colleagues.  Notes and log books should be maintained in openly available electronic files.
  • Use the right equipment for the job. Don’t be tempted to use a larger pipette than you really need; you will be more efficient and accurate with the right tools for the right job.
  • Calibrate your equipment regularly.
  • Close the fume hood. It has been estimated that fume hoods which have been left open can use the same amount of energy as 3.5 homes.
  • Bank your frozen samples carefully rather than using banks of freezers liberally. Are your freezers both full and being used efficiently?  Can you store your samples with fewer freezers?
  • Use glassware over plastic, where possible. We know plastic waste should be minimised wherever possible.  Why not start with the lab?
  • Get involved in plastic recycling and take-back programmes wherever possible.
  • Share best practice with other labs. Join knowledge sharing initiatives, such as the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF).
  • Be water-wise. Every drop counts.  Special glassware washers, for example, can help minimise plastic waste and use precious resources carefully.
  • Be organised with your equipment. Having the right inventory system in place can allow you to remove broken equipment or expired samples, freeing up space and maximising the efficiency of everything there is in the lab.
  • Have a fool proof stock control system. Ultimately, this will help you to never run out of items you need.
  • Keep in touch with your equipment supplier. If specialist equipment goes wrong, a good supplier will be able to advise on or undertake repairs.
  • Wear personal protective equipment.   There’s just no excuse.
  • Keep a log book of all accidents or safety breaches, irrespective of how minor. Encourage a ‘no-blame’ culture which will foster both best practice and efficiency.
  • Encourage tidy and well-organised work stations. Work with the respective staff to set things up so that they make ergonomic and practical sense.
  • Invite your suppliers in regularly to chat through new products and equipment. You might be surprised how they can work with you to help you to run a more efficient lab.