Though your laboratory ideally won’t have any issues to speak of, it’s just not possible to avoid each and every possible slip-up. These slip-ups don’t have to be catastrophic, however.
By developing a system to deal with mishaps whenever they occur, you can mitigate them before they spiral out of control. This process is known as quality control and allows for quick, effective responses that’ll keep your lab in perfect working order.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about quality control, including what it is, how to implement it, and how your lab will benefit from having it.
What is Quality Control in a Lab?
Quality control is the process of identifying and resolving problems that commonly occur in the lab environment. Though you should have systems in place to avoid these problems, you also need contingency plans in place in the event that something slips through the cracks. In the long run, this will prevent lost data, safety code violations, inaccurate test results, and of course, a fair amount of unnecessary frustration.
Quality Control Vs. Quality Assurance
Quality control is often thought to be an interchangeable term with quality assurance, but the two are actually entirely different, and equally important. Quality control is the process of verifying the quality of your work, checking for errors, and correcting them where necessary.
It’s not a process that helps to prevent the issues from occurring, it just works to resolve them. Of course, you need to be able to deal with issues to prevent them from becoming emergencies, but at the same time, you need systems in place to ensure you aren’t spending all your time running around and correcting problems.
This is where quality assurance comes into play. Quality assurance puts systems in place that reduce the likelihood of incidents occurring, saving you the time and effort that quality control measures required.
While quality control requires an active response to an issue, quality assurance is just a system of routine practices that fit naturally into the workflow without disrupting your other important tasks. By implementing both practices into your lab environment, you can reduce the likelihood of mishaps and quickly deal with any that do occur.
Making a Good Quality Control System
Chances are, if you’re setting up a quality control system, you’re doing so alongside a quality assurance system. If that’s the case, just view your quality control plan as a continuation of quality assurance.
In both cases, you’ll need to establish standard operating procedures or SOPs, so that your employees know how to prevent accidents as well as how to resolve them. For example, if quality assurance revealed a potentially dangerous contaminant in one of your lab samples, you’d switch over to quality control by removing that sample from the testing pool and properly disposing of it.
Essentially, a well-designed system needs to be able to identify when quality control is necessary and equip employees with all the tools and knowledge they need to ensure the issue can be solved. As such, you may want to update some of your lab’s safety equipment, as well as provide company-wide training on any new procedures.
Why is Quality Control Important in a Lab?
At its core, quality control is meant to make the lab environment safer, saving you and your employees from injuries, wasted time, and legal troubles. For example, consider a chemistry lab. If an unexpected chemical reaction occurs, it could have dangerous, even life-threatening results if left unchecked.
However, if lab workers have the proper equipment and training to handle the situation, you’ll be able to get by with nothing except an incident report. From there, you can strengthen your quality control and assurance processes alike, leading to a better, safer environment to work in.
Keeping Updated Equipment
As mentioned earlier, a large portion of quality control is ensuring that your employees have the equipment they need to handle any potential incidents. Naturally, this means that you’ll need to keep all of your equipment readily available, up to code, and up to date. If it’s been a while since the last time you changed up your policies or equipment, you may notice a few places in your lab that need some improvement.
If you want to get those improvements from the best in the industry, contact us at OnePointe Solutions! We’re ready to provide you with everything your lab needs to be safe and efficient, including new lab furniture, casework, storage, partitions, and more!
We’re the perfect one-stop shop for any and all lab renovations, so if you’re interested in improving your safety and workflow, call (866) 612-7312 or contact us today to receive a quote!