In the pharma industry, just as with many others, managing safety effectively is an ongoing challenge, but one that must be met in order to protect both employees, and the environment.
Tackling safety head-on with an approach that’s risk-based, is recommended by regulatory bodies within the industry to help pharmaceutical companies not only identify potential risks, but prioritize them in terms of their severity and seriousness. Once this has been done, measures can be put in place to mitigate, or ideally, eliminate the risks.
If you’re the owner or manager of a pharma company and are concerned about how best to protect your staff and the environment from potential threats to their safety, you should ensure that the following best practices are put in place:
Tip Number One – tackle laboratory safety
As one of the most significant areas of work within a pharma company, laboratories can also present a high level of risk as a result of various pathogens and chemicals being tested and developed there.
Some of the guidelines for laboratory safety outlined by OSHA are as follows:
- Prompt cleaning of spillages
- Tidiness of all work areas
- Frequent handwashing
- Wearing of laboratory coats at all times
- A ban on smoking within the premises
- Appropriate labeling of containers
- Wearing of PPE at all times
- Covering skin to avoid exposure
- A ban on eating within the premises
- Regular checking of all equipment
- Entryways kept clear
Tip Number Two – identify and analyse potential risks on an ongoing basis
Using an approach that’s risk-based is useful for helping pharma companies identify any incidents with the potential to occur in the workplace, and study their impact on anyone working there, the products being developed, and the environment. All of this research helps companies devise and put into place, a series of measures to mitigate the threat. If a risk cannot be gotten rid of entirely, then such an approach can at the very least, help improve personnel’s response times to an incident, and help them handle it efficiently and safely.
Some of the measures for risk assessments recommended by OSHA are as follows:
- Conducting a walk-around to identify any potential risks
- Identify trends by studying accident report records
- Identify those likely to be impacted should a risk become a serious threat
- Eliminating or mitigating risks
- Documenting risks identified and actions taken
- Carrying out regular safety reviews
Tip Number Three – maintain data sheets for safety equipment and materials
Careful handling of the dangerous chemicals worked with by pharma companies is paramount, and according to an OSHA mandate, a safety data sheet containing information regarding the chemical or substance being used, must be provided by the suppliers of chemicals, to the manufacturers.
OSHA states that the safety data sheet must contain the following details:
- An identification of the chemical or substance
- Contact details of the provider
- An identification of all present hazards
- Ingredients and composition
- Toxicology report
- Measures for first-aid
- Instructions on handling and storage
- Information on appropriate disposal
- PPE requirements
It’s also essential that the safety data sheet be made available for anyone working with a chemical or substance, at any given time.
Tip Number Four – documentation of workflow at all stages
By documenting the workflow in its entirety, employees are able to follow it with unambiguity, and take the appropriate care to avoid potential risks. Additionally, this helps ensure both traceability and visibility, which will lead to a continual improvement in overall work methods.
Below are some of the most important documents required to help manage pharma safety:
- Safety policy
- PHA or Process Hazards Analysis
- ICH Q7
- Risk management strategy
- Quality assurance
- Permit to work
Tip Number Five – involvement of all employees
All employees should be aware of all potential risks and know how to handle them safely and efficiently, at all times; this typically involves a certain degree of commitment from top management, and the implementation of rigorous training and awareness.
From wearing the appropriate safety gear, to following strict protocol, pharma companies must be proactive in their health and safety management and implementation, to keep everyone and everything, protected at all times.