Relocating a lab, whether to another continent or the other side of the street, is a challenging and costly endeavor. How flawlessly it goes and how promptly lab operations resume to normal after the process depends entirely on planning, organization, and expertise.
So, whether you're renovating your current research facility, expanding into a new space, or decommissioning a facility, there are several provisions that you must make to protect the integrity of research and avoid contamination. The following are the eight steps to take in order to safely and efficiently clean-out your lab:
1. Appoint an Internal Project Team
The first step is to determine who will be involved in the clean-out process. While it's crucial to include all staff in the process, you should utilize key persons within your organization to act as relocation captains. It's also essential for the small but representative team of stakeholders to have defined roles and responsibilities.
Among the things that your internal project team should do at the initial stages is to work out a plan for how often they meet, how to communicate and record decisions, and how to monitor activity and adhere to the schedule. They should also collect vital information and data, create a solid clean-out plan, make well-versed decisions, and follow-up to keep the project on track.
2. Build an External Team
Your project team should not only consist of internal staff, but external team members as well. There are different types of professionals that you need to bring on board. The service providers you hire should be tactically chosen and scheduled on your timeline to ensure that your expectations are understood and met.
Considering that laboratories contain susceptible samples, hazardous chemicals, and delicate equipment, you don't need a standard moving company. You need a qualified moving company that has the appropriate equipment and expertise to move lab supplies safely. When choosing a moving company, ensure that they are experienced relocation specialists to guarantee the safety of your equipment and samples.
Besides a qualified moving company, you will also need the services of a qualified waste disposal company. You want to ensure that the waste material will be disposed of safely and in accordance with applicable regulations.
You will also need to reach out to finance, IT, engineering, regulatory, legal, and health & safety professionals. Building a partnership with all these professionals will provide you with the equipment and expertise needed to efficiently, safely, and compliantly clean-out and relocate your lab.
3. Define and Document the Project Scope
After building your project team, you should start working on a comprehensive plan for the entire clean-out process. The plan should cover all aspects of the project, from routine meetings during which team members decide on the project timelines, allocate a budget, define expectations, discuss progress, and report metrics. Collective insights from team members can make planning more comprehensive, helping to outline crucial activities and events, realistic timelines, and expected outcomes.
Having a clear understanding of the project scope is vital to the successful planning and implementation of the move. Also, defining and documenting the project scope will eliminate complications in the final delivery of services that are needed before, during, and after the physical move.
4. Inventory your Material and Equipment
Taking inventory of all hazardous and non-hazardous material in your lab is another crucial step before relocating your lab. You need to conduct an in-depth inventory assessment to find out the types of items you need to move and the inherent risks and liabilities associated with each one of them. The following are the things to consider when taking inventory of your material and equipment.
· Do you need a lab freezer?
Many labs have samples and substances that must be kept in cold storage. It is not enough to simply move these items in a truck with a freezer as many of them have exact temperature ranges and requirements. As such, you should note all items and put proper cold-storage or lab freezer transport procedures in place.
· Do you have sensitive equipment?
May labs also have very sensitive equipment that is not only very fragile, but also quite expensive. Some types of equipment call for very complex calibration procedures. You need to note all your sensitive equipment to ensure that you will have qualified professionals to handle it during packaging and transit.
· Do you have hazardous materials?
There is a wide range of substances that the Department of Transportation classifies as hazardous. You need to take note of all hazardous materials in your laboratory so that you can determine the right steps to take to ensure public safety when transporting them. Knowing the types of hazardous materials you have is crucial as you will need to consult authorities to obtain information about the legitimacy of transporting them. You also need to know the hazardous materials you have in your lab so that you can obtain the relevant permits required to transport them.
· Do you need chain-of-custody documentation?
There are research facilities that handle items that are considered as evidence for law enforcement agencies. Such items require chain-of-custody documentation before they are moved from one location to another. Aside from evidence material, laboratories also have items that require chain-of-custody documentation. If you have such items, it will be necessary for you to arrange an escort to maintain the chain of custody during relocation.
Understanding the types of materials you have and their inherent risks and liabilities will allow you to evaluate labor and transport needs accurately. An assessment of your inventory will also enable you to determine what types of movers you will need to ensure that you maintain safety and compliance throughout the clean-out process.
5. Dispose of Materials You Can Discard
After a thorough evaluation of your material inventory, you can then work to ensure that your inventory is leaner, safer, and more cost-effective to move. There are some cases where the risk and cost of moving certain materials are higher than that of disposing it and restocking it once your new lab is established. Disposing materials that are too risky or costly to move will ensure a safer, more efficient, and cost-effective relocation experience.
6. Inspect the New Location
Before moving to your new research facility, you need to inspect it thoroughly to ensure that it meets all your requirements. You should verify the new location's readiness by testing things such as:
Temperature and humidity controls
Safety systems, including emergency lights, smoke detectors, safety showers, and eyewashes
Electrical options, including back-up generators and UPS outlets
Phone, data, and internet connections
Power outlets and wiring for IT systems, phone, and fax lines
With a list of all items and equipment, you should verify that the new location has adequate space and systems to ensure smooth operation after the move. You should also plan for the cleaning and disinfection of the space as needed before the move.
7. Pack and Label Items Accordingly
After taking your inventory and identifying different types of materials, samples, and equipment that you have, you should ensure that they are packed and labeled accordingly. Ensure that only qualified, trained, and certified packers and movers handle hazardous materials throughout the packaging and relocation process.
8. Move to the New Location
On the day of the move, hopefully, everyone is packed, and the relocation can begin. After successfully moving all items, tour the new research facility to ensure that all items have been moved. You should also coordinate the calibration of equipment.
If you need assistance with your lab clean-out and relocation project, reach out to us. Our team of experts is ready to guide you to identify risks, propose solution, and guide you through the process so you can relocated quickly, safely, and cost-effectively.