Peek inside a lab on any given day, and you'll find scientists conducting research into medicine, pharmaceuticals, genetics, physics, geoscience, and engineering (to name only a few). You’ll see researchers handling cells, transferring chemicals, handling animals, and operating lasers.
For safety professionals, this presents a significant challenge. How do you keep a handle on all the people, activities, and hazards – all while preserving your sanity? The sheer volume and pace of data is enough to make your head spin.
Fortunately, there is a tool available that is designed specifically to exist in this fast-paced environment. In this article, we’ll show you how BioRAFT helps manage the chaos that is inherent in research.
Why is research so chaotic?
To understand why research is so chaotic (using an academic lab environment as an example), we need to back up a step. Let’s say you manage a research program with 50 groups. In each group, there are 8 researchers. Each researcher might encounter a number of different hazards: chemicals, glassware, sharps, laboratory animals, radiation, lasers, and so on.
Each individual hazard creates a number of compliance touchpoints. For example, a laser needs to be serviced and inspected, researchers need to receive appropriate laser safety training, and the proper protective eyewear needs to be provided.
In turn, each compliance touchpoint creates a number of individual data points. For example, inspection data points might include the date the inspection was conducted, the inspector’s name and information, findings, corrective actions, outstanding items, and recurring issues.
The table below shows how quickly all this information multiplies:
Now, let’s say one of these researchers moves to a new lab or group – a common occurrence. That one small change triggers a large downstream cascade of data. How do you see to it that all their information gets carried over? How do you ensure they have the appropriate training for the hazards they might encounter?
Running a safe and productive lab depends on your ability to keep up with the chaos and manage the data deluge effectively. Not only that, but in the event of an injury, accident, or incident, accurate information is essential. It’s your team must be able to go back and answer specific questions about what happened, where, why, and how often.
To do this effectively, you’ll need to move beyond spreadsheets, burdensome homegrown or legacy systems, and scattered filing cabinets, and start using a modern software system that can reliably collect, organize, and maintain all this data.
BioRAFT is designed to manage the chaos that is inherent in research
BioRAFT is different from other safety and compliance software because it is built by researchers and laboratory safety experts with one goal: create an effective, scalable solution that sustainably integrates safety compliance into lab and research operations.
Our management and product development teams have decades of experience in academic and pharmaceutical research, scientific software, education, healthcare, and aerospace industries. All that to say: we've seen what works (and what doesn't).
As we continue to build BioRAFT, we do so with a deep understanding of the challenges of the dynamic laboratory environment. We know that the system needs to be able to keep up with both the volume and velocity of data. BioRAFT does this in two key ways, which we’ll discuss below.
Active Directory Integration & Single Sign-On
First, BioRAFT uses Active Directory Integration to keep your researcher information current. In simple terms, Active Directory Integration means that BioRAFT connects to your human resources directory and uses that information to populate your users and groups within the system.
It’s an enormous and critical amount of data upkeep that suddenly disappears off your plate.
Once BioRAFT is linked to your human resources directory, users will automatically be added, updated, and removed. Whenever a new individual joins your organization, someone leaves, or their contact information changes, these changes will be reflected in the BioRAFT system. This saves you from having to manually update information and ensures that BioRAFT operates as a single source of truth for your organization.
When it comes to getting information into your system for your EHS team to leverage, BioRAFT has a secret weapon – Single Sign-On.
Single Sign-On eliminates a major stumbling block by allowing researchers to use preexisting login credentials, providing a seamless experience. It’s a rare thing to find a researcher who’s excited about entering safety and compliance data, but that’s exactly what needs to happen across the board for any laboratory safety software to succeed.
The effect? When a researcher has information they need to update and they go to your system, the scales tip towards “I’ll just take care of it now” and away from the perpetual excuse of “I’ll just do it later.”
Another way BioRAFT helps keep up with the chaos is by organizing your data in a systematic, intuitive way.
Data in BioRAFT is organized into Users, Labs/Groups, Spaces, Buildings, and Locations/Campuses. Unlike flat sets of rows and columns in Excel, BioRAFT’s data hierarchy makes it easy to visualize the relationships between individual users, groups, spaces, buildings, and campuses.
Here are a few examples of the types of information that is stored at each level:
- User: contact information; associated lab(s) and space(s); authorized devices and equipment; training records; job activities; associated hazards.
- Lab: lab members; job activities; hazards and inventories present in the entire space; equipment in use; inspection history; lab research overview; contact information for group leader and/or manager.
- Building: contact information for building manager and address; all labs within the building; inspection history and findings; safety systems; equipment.
This intuitive structure enables safety leaders to locate information easily – no matter how chaotic things get. For example, if you want to see training compliance for a specific laboratory, you can simply navigate directly to that section of BioRAFT. Or, you can get to the same spot from a building view or user view.
Once there, as long as you have the appropriate permissions, you can easily find out the total amounts of every chemical stored in a specific laboratory, space, or building in a few clicks. This type of information is critical for emergency management and response.
Not only does this data hierarchy enable you find information faster, it also helps keep your data secure. With BioRAFT’s permissions system, you can easily decide which levels of information each user should be able to access and set appropriate permissions. In this way, BioRAFT ensures that people throughout your organization are only able to view or change information that is relevant to their role.
We’ve covered a lot of ground, so here’s a quick recap:
- Research environments tend toward chaos. For software to function well in this setting requires a unique set of considerations.
- BioRAFT is designed specifically to exist within the dynamic laboratory environment.
- The BioRAFT system succeeds where other solutions fail because of its use of Active Directory Integration, and its thoughtfully-designed data structure.
If you’d like to learn more about how BioRAFT can help you keep up with the chaos, let’s talk.