There are many industries in the nation that have seen significant growth over the past decade. The medical and biotech laboratory industry is no exception to this trend; it’s expanding in spite of the economy’s slow recovery. On the surface, this sounds like a promising field to look into if you’re a millennial graduate, but it isn’t necessarily that straightforward.
Before diving into to the biomedical field, you’ll need to understand what you’re getting into—and we don’t just mean how to use fume hoods or where you’ll be in 10 years’ time.
Stats and Facts
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical and clinical laboratory technician field’s growth of open positions will increase by 16 percent over the next 10 years. Salary amounts start at $35,000 per year and increase to as much as triple this rate, but the median is $51,000.
The minimum requirements for most lab positions aren’t all that robust, though more experience will ensure better success at interviews. Expect to possess a two-year associate’s degree with some work-related experience to get the job.
There is, in fact, a rising demand for diagnosing the aging population that will sustain the growth of the industry in the near future. Choosing to pursue a career in this field could very well provide you with a life-long job you love as long as you go about it the right way.
Mass Retiring and Aging Baby Boomers
Lab job work will benefit from aging baby boomers directly. The loss of older and experienced laboratory technicians who will most likely retire in the next five years will significantly increase available positions.
Around 20 percent of experienced lab techs in nearly every medical field fall under or close to the baby boomer generation. This rapid loss of senior workplace experience will hurt the knowledge base of the current bulk of laboratory technicians somewhat, but this is balanced by the increase in available jobs.
Unfortunately, this knowledge is difficult to replace. Labs will need to work harder than ever to train newer techs on the job, and techs will need to rely more on their previous education to acclimatize to newer standards.
Schools Lack Training Programs
If only the solution was to just rely on formal education to fill in the gaps of workplace experience. Unfortunately, heavy cuts to laboratory training programs at colleges across the country are resulting in less actual lab time in school.
The numbers reflect this statistic. Despite the fact that 7,000 new lab tech jobs open every year, college training programs only produce around 6,000 potential lab techs. The shortage means that schools are only able to train 85 percent of the workforce. In an environment like a lab, where it simply isn’t as easy to train technicians, this is a very notable problem.
Added Pressure on Current Lab Techs
There is a growing pressure for current lab techs to find more efficient and effective ways to get new lab techs up to speed. This is worsened by a constantly rising demand for professional lab techs and poor training resources, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get the training you need; it just means labs need to get creative.
Many modern labs are decreasing the clinical rotation cycle to get more new techs first-hand experience. Some programs have already dropped their normal 22 weeks down to 12 weeks, but the demand is high enough that 8 weeks may have to be the new limit.
Internships may also open up the floor for experience without stressing either the lab or the student. Although salary is often lacking, real-time lab experience under a mentor is incredibly valuable.
Technology and future iterations of current machines (including computers) will also make training and education in lab work much easier. One online learning module, eClinic, is under development to use 3D technology that simulates laboratory conditions and virtual classrooms at the same time. Students can use eClinic to run experiments without the same risks they’d face in real-time.
Though virtual reality isn’t the same as hands-on experience, it is nearly as accurate and wide-reaching in scope. In an industry that needs all the help it can get, this new technology helps to fill in the gaps.
Is your lab struggling to find new workers with enough experience to work safely and efficiently? Start with having the right equipment from day one. From fume hoods to lab furniture, Genie Scientific has everything you need to run your lab smoothly, effectively, and comfortably.
In today’s ecologically-minded society, sustainability has become one of the top concerns of companies across the globe—laboratory facilities included. In most cases, the extra costs attributed to purchasing and installing sustainable components will eventually be absorbed by the savings from reduced energy costs.¹ From the first steps of design planning through long-term operation, here are a few elements you can incorporate to create an efficient, sustainable laboratory.
Appropriate, Properly-Functioning HVAC Systems
While it may seem like a better idea to have too large a component than too small a component during planning, an over-sized HVAC system can mean you’re paying energy costs for more than your lab really requires. Because ventilation and appropriate temperature are important aspects to consider in laboratory design, it’s important to really consider what is appropriate for your laboratory size and setup. Proper planning and regular maintenance will improve overall efficiency and sustainability.
Fume Hood Efficiency
An inefficient fume hood is another drain on energy and lab function. To ensure that your fume hood, ventilation systems, and lab output quality are long-lasting, it’s important to install high-quality fume hoods that function at optimal (or near-optimal) efficiency and are designed to last. In addition to being more sustainable, a good fume hood supports quality R&D results.
Taking steps to conserve water wherever possible is another way to lower costs and reduce your lab’s ecological footprint. Beyond simply trying to reduce overall water usage by implementing various best practices, there are a number of other conservation options. For equipment that requires liquid cooling to function properly, try to connect the system to an existing cooling system, if possible. You can also process your lab’s wastewater for use in cooling and other systems that don’t come in direct contact with materials.²
Reduce electricity usage by employing energy-saving technology and architectural design. One of the easiest ways to reduce the need for electric lighting is to employ the practice of “daylighting” and use appropriate windows to increase the availability of natural light, as is reasonable based on the building’s exposure, geographic location, specialized lab needs, etc.
When selecting lab-appropriate windows, it’s also important to opt for models with the right properties and glazing to keep the lab’s heating and cooling efficient.
Other solutions include the use of CFL or LED bulbs and installing automated lighting systems that can turn off automatically when the lab is already well-lit by daylight or not in use.
Waste Reduction and Management
It’s also important to design your lab with good waste stream management from the very beginning. A sustainable lab design will make it easy to reuse and recycle materials as needed, as well as dispose of waste properly and efficiently without risk of pollution. By combining easy access to appropriate disposal with waste management best practices and regular monitoring, your lab can continue to function for years to come without expanding its ecological impact.
Make Your Lab Resilient with Equipment and Lab Planning Services from Genie Scientific
At Genie Scientific, we aim to help our customers create the best possible laboratory to suit their needs, all while keeping responsible building practices and sustainability at the heart of the project. With the help of our professional lab planning experts and high-efficiency fume hoods, you can design an ecologically friendly, sustainable, cost-saving laboratory to meet all your R&D needs.
To learn more about our laboratory planning services, custom fume hoods, and long-lasting lab furniture, contact us today at (800) 545-8816.
Older lab equipment doesn’t last forever. Equipment typically gets replaced every now and then or when something breaks. It’s easy to look at a big machine or a counter top and think it was built like a truck, but this is erroneous and dangerous, especially when it comes to fume hoods. A recent survey of laboratories showed that roughly one-fifth of them were going to replace their fume hood; a whopping one-third of those replacements were due to old age!
If you’ve recently completed a safety checklist but aren’t sure if the issues you found require the equipment to be replaced, use this guide to keep your lab safe.
Failed Safety Tests
Upgrading your custom fume hood isn’t just about getting a new shiny piece of equipment. It’s all about keeping you safe. The moment you realize your fume hood isn’t doing enough to keep you safe is when you should look into a replacement.
A big red flag is if your hood fails to pass its annual filtration test but the filters are new or in good condition. This sometimes happens due to other variables, but, more than likely, it’s your 30-year-old fume hood breaking down. The fact of the matter is that older fume hoods don’t have the technological or safety features modern-day hoods have.
Material degradation is another reason to replace a fume hood. Obvious signs of this include discoloration of the material inside the hood, etches or scratches, or fogging of the windows that can’t be (or isn’t easily) cleaned off.
If the interior doesn’t physically look like it’s made of one material throughout, then its structure may be weakened and becoming unsafe. This can get bad enough to the point where the internal parts of the hood start degrading and corroding.
One sign of this is a loud fan that makes noises or inconsistent spinning speeds. These signs are due to prolonged exposure to chemicals, in general, or an exposure to a wide variety of chemicals that older hoods were not designed to handle.
Replacing something by virtue of its being old may seem like an unimportant condition and a bit like excessive spending, but it’s important to note how much technology has changed over the last few decades. Older fume hoods don’t keep pace with newer chemical applications.
Laboratory space is at a premium; you may need more time or space with your fume hood than you can feasibly get with your current setup. If you’ve hired on more staff or are running more experiments, the hoods you have may not be able to keep up.
Older hood hardware can be an issue, too. It may be too expensive to upgrade, too difficult to adjust, or simply impossible to bring up to code. It will degrade faster if you’re using the hood with chemicals it wasn’t designed for. Using these chemicals can create buildup on the viewing glass, scratch and corrode the interior, and corrode the internal parts of the hood and ducts.
This can all lead to the hood not working as intended or potentially breaking completely in the middle of an experiment.
Need to replace your fume hood? Genie Scientific offers a broad range of hoods to serve many laboratory needs. Shop for parts, hoods, supplies, and more right from your laboratory, now, by browsing our extensive catalog located on our website.
Knowing how to use a fume hood can be elusive, especially if you’re shopping for a fume hood for the first time. Despite their usefulness in a laboratory setting, many labs use them incorrectly even when installed. Poorly or incorrectly installed hoods won’t just perform incorrectly, they can be a safety risk, too.
Understand that it is mandatory to have a fume hood safety checklist nearby at all times when using a fume hood. The 5-minute safety inspection should take place before using the hood every single time, no matter what the experiment. However, these checklists can be out of date or convoluted, and they may be full of technical jargon that isn’t clearly explained to entry-level technicians. Use this fume hood safety checklist to keep your laboratory safe.
Basic Safety Tips
First and foremost are some basic safety tips about the machine itself. Make sure your fume hood is tested and maintained regularly. Keep the fume hood safety checklist nearby at all times—it’s best hung on a wall nearby rather than stashed in a drawer. Keep all appropriate lab equipment close to the fume hood and easy to access (i.e., not behind locked drawers).
Be vigilant about looking for defects or potential malfunctions. Make it easy for technicians to report these issues to upper management as they occur. If it takes your technician an hour to contact a repair specialist, you likely have a problem with your maintenance process that needs to be addressed.
Finally, check to see if your hood’s flow indicator is in place and working properly to detect the airflow inside. If it’s not, don’t utilize the hood until the problem is resolved.
Airflow is how a fume hood keeps you safe. Without it, chemical fumes and gases will build up and can make your technicians extremely sick. Depending on the gas, it could even cause fatalities or explosions. Make sure that the airflow of the room and the hood’s immediate surroundings are being properly channeled before using it each and every time.
Check to see if all windows and doors in the lab are closed. Turn off or remove any fans within the room. Pointing a fan in the direction of the fume hood may redirect the air to flow outside of it and directly into your face. Finally, make sure there is nothing in the fume hood itself that is blocking air flow through the baffles in the back.
Vapors and Gases
Vapors take some time to properly disperse into their surroundings. Keep all work materials and chemicals at least 6 inches away from you while they are inside the hood. This will give enough room to create a strong enough air current to protect you and any other team members that are working with you.
Note that fume hoods are not designed to protect you from explosions, so extra caution should be taken with any inflammatory substances. Some of the vapors may dissipate through your flame hood—but don’t forget that your arms and the rest of the lab are still vulnerable through the small opening in the front. Make sure you know what you are working with and what to do if an accident happens.
Chemical Safety Tips
Not all fume hoods are certified to handle every chemical. There should be a label somewhere on the hood informing you what types of chemicals and reactions it is capable of handling; use this information to guide your fume hood use daily. Never assume that a high-quality hood can handle other substances just because it works well—this is a laboratory cardinal sin.
Common chemicals that many hoods can’t handle include:
• Perchloric acid
• Radioactive isotopes
• Certain other volatile gases
Reactions that involve a high amount of pressure are typically not supported by the average fume hood, either. For experiments like these, custom fume hoods may be best.
You’ll find a marker on the side of your fume hood that indicates fume hood sash height requirements. Do what you can to work at or below that marker to maximize airflow and safety. Many sashes have mechanics that limit how high or low the sash can go; never tamper with the mechanics to force a hood to work, as it may break the sash entirely.
Ensure that the window of the hood is clean and easy to see through before using. Don’t add any stickers or labels of your own or write on the window with markers, and don’t place anything on the sash unless indicated by your laboratory. Even a small obstruction can be an annoyance or a source of danger if it’s in the wrong spot.
Shop now for custom fume hoods, fume hood sashes, and other laboratory-certified products. Genie Scientific has the knowledge and reliability needed to help you achieve your experimentation goals safely, reliably, and effectively with as little risk as possible.
Fume hoods go through a certification process when they are manufactured. These processes are designed to ensure the hood will satisfy state, federal, and international certification guidelines, as well as those that meet or exceed current ISO9001 standards. In addition, the certification is part of the requirements to comply with standards and regulations prescribed by various agencies, including:
• SEFA (Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association)
• OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
• ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers)
• NEBB (National Environmental Balancing Bureau)
• AIHA/ANSI (American Industrial Hygiene Association/American National Standards Institute)
There are specific test procedures used to evaluate the fume hood’s airflow velocity, airflow monitors, airflow gauges, cross-draft air flows, tracer gas containment, and so on. Long before these tests can be performed, the first step in certification is to calibrate the hood, airflow monitors, gauges, and motors.
The calibration has to be performed to verify these items are working correctly and the face velocity of the airflow is within acceptable parameters. Most agencies accept a minimum face velocity of 100 fpm (feet per minute) and a maximum of 120 fpm, and they tend to use 115 fpm as a standardized calibration since it is sufficient for a wide array of general usages.
After a fume hood has been initially certified by the manufacturer, laboratories, universities, healthcare facilities, and other organizations where the hoods are installed must ensure they have policies and practices in place to re-certify the hood on an annual basis, at the minimum. Some operations will re-certify their hoods bi-annually or quarterly, depending upon the amount of use and volume of chemicals and materials being used under the hood.
Anytime a hood is re-certified, the certification sticker on the hood should be updated. Any hood within your organization that either does not have a certification sticker, or has one that was last certified more than a year ago, should not be used until the hood can be tested and re-certified.
Re-certification testing checks the face airflow velocity using an acceptable measuring device, like an electronic digital anemometer, and verifies other devices and functions are working within prescribed and acceptable parameters.
Some organizations outfit their hoods with special monitors that constantly monitor face airflow values. These devices will sound an alarm and alert employees that the airflow has dropped below acceptable minimum levels. The use of monitoring devices is highly recommended, as it helps increase safety in work environments and reduces the risks associated with workplace accidents related to poor venting.
In between annual certifications, regular laboratory inspections should be conducted on all hoods. All monitors and other measurement devices should be checked to ensure they are working properly. In addition, the inspection should verify good housekeeping practices are being followed and practiced.
Anytime a hood is found to not be working correctly or fails testing guidelines, its use should be discontinued immediately until it can be fixed, repaired, and retested. For assistance in laboratory planning, installation, furniture, workbenches, hoods, and other products, call Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816.
When you are in the process of designing a laboratory space, maximizing storage should be one of your top priorities. You need to be able to keep your workspace clear while also having quick access to the equipment and materials needed to conduct your research and experiments.
Shelving plays a vital role in the design of your lab because it enhances organization and the overall efficiency of your team. However, how do you know which type of shelving will work out best in your lab? From overhead shelves, to laboratory cabinets, to shelves built into workbenches, there is a solution that allows you streamline workflow and make it easier for your team to get work done in your lab.
Overhead Shelving Solutions
The best part of lab planning is that you have the opportunity to install custom storage units to accomplish your goals. Overhead shelving provides you with a solution that greatly improves lab organization. Not only does it move chemicals and samples off your workspace, it also allows you to create a system that maps out the exact location of these items in the lab. This saves valuable time so your team doesn’t need to blindly search for what they need.
Customized overhead shelving can be designed to meet all of your objectives. This includes setting the number of shelves, as well as their height and depth. This enables you to store the tools, files and other equipment that is vital to the work being done in the lab. Here are some benefits of having overhead shelving in your lab:
Specialty Cabinets and Workbenches
In addition to overhead shelving, incorporating shelves into your cabinets and workbenches allows your lab to utilize all available space and give it a purpose. Hybrid laboratory cabinets combine traditional upright cabinets with multiple drawers of different sizes so you can combine your storage solutions and cut down on your workspace’s overall footprint in your lab.
These types of cabinets are great for shared-use labs or classroom environments that see a number of different groups working on a variety of projects and experiments. Each cabinet can be used to store materials and equipment for each group securely, keeping it out of the way when not in use.
The same strategy can be used with custom workbenches for your lab. Using the same concept of a hybrid cabinet, your workbench can feature a smaller cabinet space with a variety of drawers made to suit your needs. Mobile cabinets go a step further by allowing you to remove and reorder shelves and have power in a unit that can be added to or removed from your lab based on your needs for that project.
Learn more about the ways to maximize the value of your shelving while minimizing costs by contacting a representative of Genie Scientific today at (800) 545-8816.
Like any other piece of laboratory equipment, it’s important that everyone in your laboratory knows how to properly operate your fume hood. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most important things lab staff need to know about using a fume hood.
1. Know What Your Fume Hood Is For
Fume hoods aren’t one-size-fits-all pieces of equipment—you always need to make sure that the protection needs for your work match up with the type of fume hood you are using. A carbon-filtered fume hood pulls contaminated air through the filters, then recirculates the clean air into the room, thereby protecting only lab personnel. A laminar flow hood, by comparison, protects only the product, while a biological safety cabinet protects both the product and the personnel.
2. Never Operate a Fume Hood Without Appropriate Training
Though it might seem simple enough to use in concept, it’s important that all who use the fume hood are appropriately trained in its use and safety requirements. It’s not only a laboratory best practice, it’s also the best way to make sure no one is injured in a related accident.
3. Always Know What You’re Working with (and Have the MSDS Nearby)
Even with the protective benefit of the hood, it’s an important best practice to always know which chemicals you’re working with, as well as their risks and potential interactions. Be sure to keep the appropriate MSDS nearby for easy reference.
4. Keep the Sash Closed When the Hood Is Not in Use
Just like Mom always said, close it/put it away when you’re not using it. Not only does this ensure the safety of everyone working in the lab, but it also prevents excess energy expenditure. In laboratories using a variable air volume system with sash sensors that adjust the volumetric flow of air, a great deal of energy and money can be saved by lowering the sash and reducing the volume of air flow.
5. Fume Hoods Are Not for Storage
It should go without saying, but nothing should ever be stored inside a fume hood when it’s not in use. This is a common error in labs that don’t have sufficient storage space, but keeping chemicals and equipment inside an unused fume hood can lead to spills, equipment damage, and more. If you need more storage, consider investing in a new set of Genie Scientific steel storage cabinets.
Get a Genie Scientific Custom Fume Hood to Suit Your Needs
For a high-quality, reliable fume hood designed specifically to fit your laboratory’s functions, turn to Genie Scientific. For three decades, we’ve been building and installing custom UL Listed and ASHRAE 110 tested fume hoods with a broad variety of features. From floor-mounted walk-in fume hoods to explosion-proof materials and convenient bench tops, each of our hoods is built to last through experiment after experiment.
To learn more about Genie Scientific fume hoods and other custom laboratory fixtures, contact us today at (800) 545-8816.