A Guide to Good Laboratory Practices

In an environment where precision is non-negotiable, a simple mistake can set back your research and lead to catastrophic loss.

In this guide, we’ll explore what Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) should be followed for key equipment such as Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers, cryotanks, and incubators, particularly within the pharmaceutical, life science, and biotech industries.

The Human Factor: Navigating and Reducing Errors

Human error is undeniably the primary cause of mistakes in the lab. This is often a result of oversight, fatigue, or misinterpretation of procedures and alarms. The CDC released a study about the “Psychology of a Crisis” that states that during a crisis, people will misinterpret and remember less information – unless they have access to expert support. 

These mistakes can significantly affect research validity, harm your company’s reputation, and lead to catastrophic asset loss. Embracing a culture of continuous learning, adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and fostering a safety-first mindset are pivotal elements to reduce errors. 

Good Laboratory Practices In a Clinical Environment

Freezers

Freezers are critical for preserving the integrity of sensitive biological samples. Maintaining these freezers at peak performance requires the following GLP:

Regular Maintenance: Routine inspections and maintenance help avert unforeseen malfunctions.

Proper Storage: Store your samples properly to improve sample retrieval.

Monitor Your Units: A monitoring system alerts users in real-time of temperature deviations, power consumption, door contacts, and dry contact alarms, enabling immediate intervention in case of emergency. This data helps predict signs of early equipment malfunction and failure. 

Energy Efficiency: Adopt practices that reduce energy consumption, like positioning freezers in cool, ventilated areas away from heat sources. Monitoring power consumption provides insights into equipment performance and helps preserve capital.

Door Seal: Make sure nothing is going through your door seal. This can extend the time it takes to defrost the freezer and create temperature fluctuations. 

Defrosting Schedule: Implement regular defrosting times to prevent ice accumulation since it can compromise temperature stability. 

Leverage Data: Continuous monitoring not only keeps a pulse on your equipment, it also helps labs develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This data-driven approach empowers lab personnel to make informed decisions, enhancing equipment management and safety protocols.

Understand Equipment Variability: Recognize that the make and model of your equipment can influence its performance. Monitoring provides insights into these nuances, allowing for tailored maintenance and usage strategies that accommodate specific equipment behaviors.

Temperature Mapping: This monitoring approach ensures uniform temperature distribution within a cold storage unit. It also helps identify potential cold spots or areas prone to temperature variability, enabling labs to get a better understanding of their experimental outcomes and promote scientific reproducibility. Temperature mapping also serves as a type of unit validation and provides users certainty that the unit is functioning accordingly and that it’s meeting its technical capabilities.

 

Cryotanks

Cryotanks are essential for the long-term preservation of biological samples, which can range from patient samples to research materials. Some protective measures for cryotank safety include:

Inventory Management: Updating sample inventories ensures easy access and reduces risk.

Temperature Oversight: Implementing stringent temperature monitoring safeguards against sample degradation.

Preventive Maintenance and Safety Checks: Comprehensive inspections are essential to identify issues such as vacuum seal integrity, structural issues, or system malfunctions that could compromise samples. 

Liquid Nitrogen Handling and Exposure Minimization: Implement rigorous protocols for the handling and replenishment of liquid nitrogen to prevent accidental exposure and ensure safety. 

Follow Emergency SOPs: Develop and regularly update SOPs. An environmental monitoring service can provide users with the data and subject matter expertise to create specific SOPs and help prevent critical asset loss. 

 Seek Expert Guidance: The NIH released a study about “Safe Laboratory Practices & Procedures” and stated that users working in the lab should always “ask for assistance if they need guidance or help”

Incubators

Incubators are essential for cell and tissue culture work. Ensuring optimal incubator operation involves a series of practices aimed at maintaining stability and preventing sample contamination by monitoring specific incubator parameters.

Calibration: Labs are responsible for proper unit calibration.

Regular Cleaning and Sterilization: Implement a schedule for cleaning and sterilizing the incubator. Use approved disinfectants that won’t compromise your samples. 

Documentation: The NIH clearly states that implementing documentation processes is essential because “what is not documented never happened.”

Minimize Door Openings: Reduce the frequency and duration of door openings. Each opening can introduce contaminants and disrupt the incubator’s internal environment.

Incubator Positioning: Place incubators away from direct sunlight, air vents, and high-traffic areas to prevent fluctuations in internal conditions. 

Emergency Preparedness: Develop and implement protocols for power outages or equipment failures, including backup power solutions or alternative storage arrangements.

Training and SOPs: Ensure all laboratory personnel are thoroughly trained on the proper use, maintenance, and emergency procedures related to incubators. Regularly review and update Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to reflect any changes in equipment or laboratory practices.

 

Monitoring-as-a-Service: A SafetyNet for Your Lab

Good Laboratory Practices are not merely guidelines but the cornerstone of scientific integrity and safety in the laboratory. By understanding the nuances of human error, implementing environmental monitoring, and adhering to good laboratory practices for essential lab equipment, laboratories can significantly enhance the reliability and safety of their research outcomes. 

The XiltriX system vigilantly monitors environmental parameters and provides real-time alerts to prevent potential disasters through our SafetyNet Team. SafetyNet is a team of monitoring experts who provide 24/7 live support. In addition to being on every alarm escalation protocol, the SafetyNet team will assist you with system configuration and administration, troubleshooting, unlimited training, live phone calls, and they’ll act as an extension of your team.

Our system not only safeguards valuable research, it also ensures compliance with quality and regulatory standards. XiltriX are industry experts with ISO 9001 and SOC 2 Type 2 certification.