No Storage Under Sinks and Other Rules
My father, who flipped houses before it became a fad, used to say we fill whatever space we have. We went from larger to smaller to larger homes, barn to shed to garage, losing and gain stuff wherever we went. And our space always got filled somehow. It’s what we do.
Laboratories are no different. Whatever space we have is filled with instruments, supplies, paperwork, and anything else we suspect we might need someday. This includes the space beneath enclosed sinks. That’s where we keep Gram stain reagents, cleaning supplies, wire brushes, basins, buckets, bleach, and everything but the lab sink.
Well, keep is present tense. A while ago a pre-inspection team toured our hospital and said, “No storage under sinks!”
Not only did we have to empty the cupboard beneath the sinks, we had to find a place to put all that stuff. This can be torture for the natural pack rats that lab people tend to be. Other stuff in cupboards and shelves was shoved aside, crammed, and piled to make room while the sink cabinets were wired shut and marked with a sign of a sink with a large red “X” through it.
One OSHA expert says this about sinks:
OSHA isn’t concerned about under-the-sink storage as long as it does not endanger employees.... Buckets and cleaning product containers... would be permitted under OSHA.
Avoid storage of sharps and red bag waste, PPE, and patient care devices and supplies. In other words, if you’re using a sink to wash glassware, keeping cleaning supplies under the sink is OK. It’s probably safer, too.
Other “rules” I run into include:
- No storage within 18 inches of the ceiling (fire regulation)
- No doors propped open (fire regulation)
- No cardboard containers (infection control)
- No tape on non-porous surfaces (infection control)
I could probably come up with a dozen others. I wonder if they are all necessary. Over-zealous application of such rules often increases cost, reduces space, or creates new problems. In the meantime, we fill our remaining space and move on. It’s what we do.
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