Like any manufacturing industry, the pharmaceutical industry comes with its own host of potential safety issues.
What’s unique to the pharma industry is that employees are routinely exposed to chemicals in the workplace as part of their job.
As such, the pharma industry must take steps to remedy safety issues. The good news is that this is relatively straightforward if you abide by regulatory guidelines and use the right tools to stay on track.
Here are a few tips to practice better health and safety in the pharma industry.
Practice Basic Lab Safety
It should go without saying, but if you’re working in the pharmaceutical industry, basic lab safety is a must.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides extensive guidelines regarding lab safety, but there are a few basic steps that any employer or worker can keep in mind.
For example, frequent cleaning should be high on the priority list, especially if your employees are working with potentially hazardous chemicals. Employees themselves should regularly wash their hands to limit the spread of bacteria and to limit exposure to chemicals.
Along similar lines, employees should never eat in the lab. They should never wear clothing that exposes skin (i.e. shorts and t-shirts) and should always wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as eye protection and safety gloves.
As an employer, it’s your job to set safety standards in your lab and to ensure that employees are following them.
Perform Regular Risk Assessments
To that end, employers should conduct daily risk assessments.
In other industries, this may seem excessive. The pharmaceutical industry is unique because of how often employees are exposed to hazardous chemicals.
As such, the best way to keep your employees safe from harm is to conduct frequent risk assessments and regular checks to ensure that safety standards are being followed.
These risk assessments should cover all potential safety hazards that an employee might reasonably meet, conducted by a qualified inspector. If a problem is found, there should be steps taken to remedy the issue immediately.
If you need somewhere to get started, try these steps to conduct an assessment:
- Walk around the work area and try to spot any dangers. Make sure to check for any particular dangers to be aware of, as outlined by OSHA.
- If you notice any hazards, make a note of who could be harmed as a result of them.
- Take action to decide how the problem will be addressed. If chemicals are labeled improperly, you should get new labels and ensure that employees know how to correctly label compounds for storage.
- The risk and the action taken to remedy it should be recorded (you’re legally obligated to fix potential dangers you spot, so this helps prove that you took steps to correct the issue).
In the long term, you should also do an annual review of assessments. This will help you spot any recurring patterns of hazards and identify whether employees should receive additional training to help prevent future hazards of a similar type.
An assessment could also tell you whether you need to do a better job of communicating hazards so that employees know what to do. You’ll never know if you don’t take the time to look.
Figuring Out Health and Safety in the Pharma Industry
Figuring out health and safety in the pharma industry can often feel like an uphill battle. You have to stay on top of audits and inspections to guarantee safety. The trick, of course, is managing your time efficiently.
That’s where we can help. We offer comprehensive EHS software solutions for biotech and pharma companies just like you. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help, use our contact page to get in touch.