Category: Automation and High-Throughput Technologies
BACKGROUND: Mayo Biorepositories uses a variety of freezers for long-term sample storage. Current storage unit types include more than 150 -80⁰C upright freezers, 5 robotic storage units, and 9 cryostorage freezers. Identifying all storage unit hazards to ensure employee safety, while following Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, requires extensive research, procedural updates, staff training, working with storage unit vendors and development of methods for continuous recognition of hazards. Manufacturers continue to evolve storage unit design and new laboratory spaces require meeting several safety regulations. Mayo Biorepositories has identified methods to assist with continuous storage unit safety recognition and pinpoint areas of safety for a variety of storage units as well as the storage unit laboratory space, and additional storage units purchased as laboratory spaces are expanded.
METHODS: Storage unit manuals were read and reviewed thoroughly and safety recommendations were added to procedures to ensure proper staff training. Safety assessments are performed annually with a designated safety coordinator and internal laboratory audits are completed quarterly with the Biorepositories’ Quality Management team. Each gap identified is logged on a checklist and submitted as a deviation or recommendation. The work unit has an opportunity to respond by either making a correction or requesting for assistance from the Quality and Safety groups. For items requiring additional efforts, a team is formed and resources are gathered to ensure proper safety measures are put in place.
RESULTS: Quarterly internal audits and the annual safety assessments have identified several storage unit safety gaps. Specifically, identified gaps have included ensuring proper oxygen monitoring for all surrounding locations of storage units requiring liquid nitrogen use, identifying proper personal protective equipment while working for extended periods of time within a storage unit, and ensuring all robotic freezers have appropriate Lockout/Tagout and Confined Space procedures set in place during entry and troubleshooting.
Stacy Bakkum-Hansen– Quality Specialist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
Stacy Bakkum has a Bachelor's in Science with a degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She began her research career working in pre-clinical pharmaceutical testing with Covance Laboratories in Madison, Wisconsin from 2006-2009 and Covance Laboratories in Chandler, Arizona from 2009-2012. Stacy then worked for Hormel Foods Inc. in Austin, Minnesota from 2012-2015, in the Research and Development department doing quality assurance testing in the microbiology laboratory. She began her career at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, with the Biorepository Program in 2015. She transitioned to a Quality Specialist role in 2016. While working with Hormel Foods Inc., Stacy was exposed to the practice of Lockout/Tagout and Confined Spaces, which helped in the implementation of this safety practice within Mayo Clinic's Biorepository laboratories.