Process Improvement Based on the Outcome of an Audit In the Higher Education Safety Program




Adeyemi, Adebola
Otakore, Catherine
Sadiq-Onilenla, Rasheedat
Moncus, Matthew
Nair, Maya


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Purpose: The process put in place by the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the Environmental Health and Safety Department of the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) is designed to encourage safe practices in higher educational institutions with emphasis on their laboratories. Process improvement is an opportunity to increase efficient laboratory audits which positively influences safety practices in the laboratories. The aim of this study is to examine the current laboratory auditing by assessing the ability of the department to conduct audits through looking at staffing levels and, resources available, with the greatest emphasis on tools currently used. The outcome will help us upgrade the process and tools used for an effective audit. Methods: We used a regular lab inspection method for collecting the data. My team modified pre-existing checklist from NIH and a list developed by the University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department, to carry out unscheduled laboratory inspections for the main research buildings at UNTHSC. We tried to determine the deficiencies that occurred during a regular work day at the lab that could put the workers at risk. Excel software was used to analyze the data collected which included, shortcomings in the lab and what percentage affected either, policy, good training programs or an efficient auditing program. Results: We inspected 106 laboratories and found minor deficiencies in all. An error in the checklist and miscommunication between the auditors and lab workers resulted in the finding of a deficiency in 100% of the laboratories on one item. Duplicated results, was seen from similar questions (less than 1%), and some results had conflicting answers to the same issues. Conclusions: Based on the results of this study the checklist needs to be modified annually in keeping with the changes in the laboratories. The questions on the lists should be amended; there should be no repetitions, no similar meanings and no redundant questions which have no impact on the safety practices in the lab. Ultimately, the lists should be merged to form one useful list. The laboratory staff should be trained annually or instructed on how to meet compliance with the laboratory inspections. The increase in resources, team members, and biannual training of the auditors will all work towards an efficient auditing program. Changing the entire verification process into an online electronic version will be more time effective with efficient data storage and accessibility.