Since the onset of the COVID-19, many routines that happen in clinical and science laboratories have been directly affected, with daily cleaning and disinfecting protocols of laboratory furniture and science tables at the top of the list.
To date, there are more than 13 million documented instances of COVID-19 worldwide, which means ensuring laboratory equipment is kept clean and disinfected is a top priority to prevent further spread of the highly infectious virus.
In this article, we will offer guidance on how to set new disinfection protocols for your lab and protect laboratory personnel from exposure to COVID-19.
How to Set COVID-19 Laboratory Disinfection Protocols
Perform a Risk Assessment
A thorough risk assessment is essential for all laboratories to consider and should include the following considerations:
- Review communication and operational strategies, such as how to protect employees from COVID-19 who are at higher risk of contracting the illness and how you plan to protect against further spread of the virus.
- Analyze the number of people that the lab space can safely hold while maintaining social distancing protocols.
- Assess the flow of traffic within the lab and design a direct, preferably one-way flow of traffic for employees and visitors to walk through the lab space.
- Assess cleaning and disinfection procedures for commonly shared and high-contact areas and lab equipment to guarantee clean surfaces and lab equipment for all employees and visitors.
How to Properly Clean and Disinfect Your Lab
Practice regular cleaning of high-contact (frequently touched) surfaces. This can include any tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, desks, phones, keyboards, etc.
Wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect any and all lab equipment and furniture. Clean surfaces using water and soap, then follow up with a disinfectant.
Soap and water can reduce the number of germs, dirt, and impurities on surfaces, while disinfectant kills the leftover bacteria. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be needed depending on how often the lab is used.
Disinfect all areas where a person was present, such as all high-contact surfaces, and any laboratory surfaces where visitors have direct contact. Due to the chemicals and other toxic substances used in laboratories, disinfection should occur immediately after any spill and after every work shift.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using a ten percent bleach solution as the standard for disinfection, but other disinfectant products may be used for your laboratory.
While some manufacturers of lab equipment recommend certain cleaners when cleaning and disinfecting their equipment, make sure that these products are effective for the substances and equipment that you use.
While it’s not necessary to clean and disinfect floors unless there is visible or suspected contamination, use your professional judgment the same way you would if you were cleaning or sterilizing sensitive lab equipment.
Frequency of Cleaning and Disinfecting
The frequency of cleaning and disinfection depends on the amount of activity in the laboratory. As previously mentioned, both should be done before and after the use of any and all laboratory equipment. At the minimum, a more thorough disinfection of laboratory areas should occur at the end of every day.
Disinfection of high-contact surfaces such as doorknobs, microscope tables, and keyboards should also occur at the end of every day. When disinfecting sensitive equipment, be careful to avoid damaging or disrupting any of the lab equipment, as much of the equipment is highly sensitive.
If you are unsure, consult with a professional or contact the equipment manufacturer to learn what type of cleaning and disinfectant solutions can be used on the equipment, and try to find out about any potential alternatives.
Safety Guidelines While Cleaning and Disinfecting Lab Equipment
- Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting. Gloves should be discarded after each use, and hands should be cleaned (with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds) immediately after gloves are removed. If soap is not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Wear eye protection if there is a chance of fluids splashing onto the face.
- Store chemical compounds in easy-to-read labeled and closed containers, and store them in a manner that prevents the possibility of the container tipping or spilling on an employee or visitor.
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the safe and effective use of cleaning and disinfection products. If you are unable to reach your lab equipment manufacturer, consider using alcohol-based products as they may lower the risk of harm to sensitive lab equipment.
- Whenever possible, consider using cleanable covers for electronics.
Keeping Labs Clean During a Pandemic
As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, new and improved disinfection protocols for labs will continue to be essential moving forward.
While we are all navigating the “new normal” together, one of the most important things we can do in our laboratories is ensure that they are clean, sterile, and sanitized as frequently and thoroughly as possible.
While most lab furniture and surfaces can be washed using a bleach solution, be sure to consult a professional or the equipment manufacturer for cleaning and disinfection recommendations and requirements.
A clean and sterile laboratory will ensure that your employees and visitors are as safe as possible from contracting the Coronavirus and prevents further spread of the highly infectious virus.
Keep Your Lab Clean with LabTech Supply Company
For over 30 years, LabTech Supply Company has provided customers with a wide variety of lab furniture for all types of laboratory environments. Whether you are building a new lab from the ground up or renovating an existing lab, having the right lab furniture is essential to providing a quality workspace for your lab staff.
All of our lab equipment is made in the U.S. Depending on your needs, we can also provide clients with a custom stainless steel lab table and workbenches for a variety of businesses in the U.S.
If you have a lab workspace that you’d like to purchase the best lab equipment for, contact LabTech Supply Company and let us help you make the most of your workspace.