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“SciShield? I honestly don’t know how we ever got this job done without it!” by Kimi Brown

Posted by Jonathan Klane on Jun 1, 2021 12:11:18 PM

Story narrated in their words by Kimi Brown, collaboratively prepared and written as a story by Kimi Brown and Jonathan Klane

Sometimes I’m shocked we were even able to get inspections completed before we had SciShield. The inspectors had to use of mix of pen and paper, Word documents, PDFs, a scanner, email, and even a fax machine to send reports and document signatures! Our original goal was to replace all that with something that could be done on an iPad or tablet. Once we populated the SciShield platform with all our labs’ information, though, we started getting creative. We found we could use this tool to solve other problems that we didn’t even realize we had!

Using the hazard profile, we can now ask things during the inspection like, “Oh, I see you have flammable gases. That’s new! Can you tell us what you’re working with and how you’re using it?” We started having these interesting conversations about lab hazards that maybe weren’t obvious during a visible inspection of the lab space, plus we were able to close the loop more easily on the corrective actions we were assigning during our visits. The inspections became much less about paperwork and more about understanding what truly matters to the lab group – their research.

Now that we’ve implemented ChemTracker, we can also evaluate chemical quantities, hazards, and locations even when we’re not in the lab—or on campus, for that matter!

I can be sitting in a lab design meeting, and someone will say, “Should we put this lab on the 2nd or the 7th floor of that building?” A few minutes later I can tell the team how much hazardous material the lab has and whether placing that on a higher floor of the building would be permissible under fire code (or what kinds of controls would be needed to make it possible). This is a common issue on an urban campus like ours with several high-rise biomedical buildings.

We knew that SciShield would streamline our inspections, but we didn’t expect that it would help us to prevent future issues or to have more meaningful connections with researchers. I honestly don’t know how we ever got this job done without it!

Kimi Brown, NRCC-CHO, CSP, ARM
Sr. Lab Safety Specialist/Chemical Hygiene Officer
University of Pennsylvania