Safety standards in the pharmaceutical industry are just as important as chemical plant safety or anything in the lines of a high-risk work environment. Although mishaps may not bear the same astronomical consequences, it still is very important.
Like every other workplace, the pharma industry has its very own unique set of dangers and risks. Everything from basic personal protective equipment to pharma industry 4.0 frameworks can help in maintaining health and safety.
Aspects of Safety in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Basic Lab Safety
Let’s start with the basics like basic laboratory safety. Working in a lab means you have to follow some pre-set and to some extent common sense safety guidelines. For lab techs, these guidelines are more scripture than strong suggestions.
They include basics like eye protection, always checking if glassware is cracked before any experiment, wearing a lab coat – it’s like chemistry class all over again, only way more advanced.
Risk Evaluation and Assessment
The cornerstone of assessing all potential hazards in the workplace as well as ensuring the safety of employees is effective risk evaluation. It in fact is required by law to conduct health and safety risk assessment.
Risk evaluation typically involves identifying the dangers in the workplace as well as their possible causes. Let’s talk about potential challenges to pharmaceuticals industry safety:
Some of the chemicals that require handling are and can be extremely hazardous. The use, transportation and handling should be minimized whenever possible.
The first step to doing so is to identify and describe the risks associated with each chemical. While at it, be sure to clearly detail how to properly store, identify, handle and transport these hazardous chemicals.
It is not uncommon to have some flammable materials in the lab. Flammable means they pose fire risks at the pharma facilities. I think it’s common knowledge that fires and pharma facilities don’t get along.
When dealing with vaccines and treatments, it is natural that practitioners work with some bacteria, viruses, fungi and any other of those microscopic nuisances. Working with these biological organisms spells out potential contraction of infectious diseases.
Sometimes, radiant energy has to be used in some pharma operations. For instance, vitamin D production involves the use of UV light. The risk may not be as substantial as it is in chemical plant safety for instance but face shields are still needed for protection from UV.
Take out one atom of oxygen from carbon dioxide and you have this odorless, colorless, harmful gas. It is the result of some chemical reactions and some of its side effects to us include weakness, fatigue, vomiting and sometimes death.
Caution signs should be placed on doors if you have carbon monoxide stored to alert personnel of the gas.
Maintain Health and Safety Standards in Handling Chemicals
Transporting and handling hazardous chemicals is extremely dangerous. Tasking untrained staff to handle this means chemical releases, explosions and sometimes fire. To minimize the risk, handling and transportation of these chemicals should be done as carefully as is reasonably practicable. Another concept is introduced here: chemical classification.
Classification of chemicals helps to identify how the chemicals can have detrimental effects. Classification of chemicals also states how the chemicals should be correctly labeled and handled in a legally-compliant manner to avoid disasters. It is an effective way of handling hazardous chemicals and mitigating the associated risks.
High temperatures, high pressures or oxidation are always the suspects of chemical explosions and releases. Lowering the oxidation work scale and understanding the right flammable limits help reduce the risks.
You can also install emergency showers to help wash away the chemical from the PPE or skin for that matter to prevent health hazards.
In a nutshell, it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure the health and safety of workers. It is advisable to integrate pharma industry 4.0 frameworks into optimal practices that ensure employees keep safe.