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Lab Tech Guy on white powder on the balance

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'Ask Lab Tech Guy' is a regular feature in the e-newsletter from Mourne Training Services and is posted on the MTS blog. Find out more on the MTS website at http://www.mournetrainingservices.co.uk/Blog.html

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Lab Tech Guy on white powder on the balance

  1. 1. ©2009 Mourne Training Services<br />
  2. 2. ©2009 Mourne Training Services<br />Dear Lab Tech Guy,<br />Every time I go to use the analytical balance in my lab someone has spilt white powder without cleaning it up. Can you suggest a solution to this infuriating problem?<br />Yours,<br />Marjorie<br />(Boston, US)<br />
  3. 3. ©2009 Mourne Training Services<br />Dear Marjorie,<br />“Who left this white powder on the balance?” used to be a common complaint in a laboratory where I once worked. A frustrating situation if you are the unlucky person who needs to use the balance urgently. You don’t know what it is, so you have to assume the worst when cleaning it up (this is particularly annoying in the case of a cytotoxic weighing cabinet).<br />I proposed several ingenious solutions to this problem involving features such as alarm bells, trip wires, and laser beams. Unfortunately, management felt that my designs were “a bit too Mission Impossible”.<br />So, what to do? <br />Using a carrot approach would provide an incentive for considerate use of the balance, but do you really want to reward someone for not making a mess? <br />
  4. 4. A more subtle incentive is to emphasise the importance of housekeeping as part of performance review and thus link it to career progression (and ultimately salary). This should be combined with inclusion of clean up procedures in all laboratory training. A champion in the form of a prominent member of senior management may help this soft approach to work.<br />The stick approach is to force compliance through disciplinary action. First you need to identify the offenders, the obvious method being the use of a camera. The practicality of this action may depend on legislation at your location. Some high security laboratories routinely have cameras and thus it will not be an issue but in others it may be seen as a intrusion on privacy. You might consider displaying the notice on the right as a deterrent. It’s up to you whether you actually go to the trouble of installing a camera.<br />©2009 Mourne Training Services<br /> PLEASE NOTE:<br />There is a camera recording the users of this balance. The footage will only be retrieved if the balance is left in an unacceptable condition, in which case the camera recordings will be used to identify the perpetrator and instigate disciplinary proceedings.<br /> Thank you<br />
  5. 5. ©2009 Mourne Training Services<br /> <br />So Marjorie, my advice (should you choose to accept it) is that you weigh up all the proposed solutions and select the one which is, on balance, most likely to succeed in your laboratory<br />Yours self-destructingly, <br />
  6. 6. Brought to you by...<br />www.mournetrainingservices.co.uk<br />©2009 Mourne Training Services<br />

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