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Study Notes: Requirements for Chemical Record Keeping

Record keeping of chemical stocks in a laboratory is done for the following reasons.

  • Safety - to have a database of MSDSs for all chemicals in stock.
  • Safety - to ensure that stocks of particularly hazardous chemicals are kept to a minimum.
  • Efficiency - to ensure that chemicals do not run out.
  • Efficiency - to take advantage of economies of scale when purchasing bulk supplies.
  • Efficiency - to make it simple to purchase more stock.
  • Efficiency - to make stocktaking of chemicals as simple as possible.
  • Efficiency - to reduce the amount of old stock discarded.
  • Quality - to ensure rotation of stocks.
  • Quality - to manage expiry dates and discard old stock.
  • Quality - often required by quality accreditation bodies.
  • Legislation - to comply with government legislation, eg for drugs of addiction.

Some points of interest regarding chemical stocks

  • A detailed record (or manifest) of chemical stocks is also useful in an emergency as it can be passed on to the emergency services.
  • A detailed record will be useful for the accountant at tax time.
  • The records can be used to highlight wastage in the laboratory.
  • The records should include catalogue numbers of ease of ordering next time.
  • The records should be automated enough to highlight potential out-of-stock situations before they occur. Of course the actual levels at which this occur will be vastly different. For instance, NaCl may need to be ordered when the laboratory supply dips below 5 kg whilst a restriction enzyme may need to be re-ordered when there is 20 MicroL left.
  • The records should allow checking of goods inward records against orders and invoices to avoid being charged for something that did not arrive.
  • The records must be user friendly enough to allow use by all members of staff including scientists (the end users of the chemicals) and the office staff (for ordering and accounts).
  • The record must be user friendly enough to be able to contain very long and complex chemical names, chemical formulae, different laboratory grades and a wide range of units and pack sizes.

Remember, that the system will only work if it is simple and easy to use, and the staff input the correct data in a timely manner.

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