While most workers at any given production site or testing facility may be cursorily familiar with microbial testing, cleaning procedures and the potential for contamination, it can still be difficult for quality control (QC) and sanitation personnel to achieve buy-in from other departments. Necessary cleaning or sample collections may seem excessive, precautionary measures may seem overly cumbersome, and some workers may fail to realize just how easy it is to introduce dangerous microbes into their environments. Ultimately, a lack of buy-in can result in a variety of losses and unnecessary expenditures: contaminated products, extra out-of-specification investigations and even long stretches of production downtime.
Still, there are plenty of ways for QC departments, managers and supervisors to achieve greater buy-in and make their facilities cleaner and more efficient. The following are a few strategies that successful labs have found may lead to greater compliance with sanitation and cleaning policies.
Depending on the size, workload and organization of a company, workers from several departments – as well as outsourced janitors – could be responsible for cleaning any given area at certain times. While many of these workers may have had some form of training in sanitation and basic cleaning procedures, it's not safe to assume they know the specific cleaning requirements for your facilities. Training programs and awareness sessions can go a long way in helping all personnel to understand when and where they need to take certain precautions to avoid contamination.
As useful as training can be, buy-in from other departments also requires an understanding of cleaning procedures and preventive measures – particularly those that seem to hamper workflows and take up extra time. Manufacturing line personnel might want to know why they have to change their gloves so often, for instance, or why they have to wear face masks when dealing with non-hazardous materials. By explaining the risks of noncompliance – or even illustrating those risks with recent out-of-specification test results – you can help other departments understand how important QC and sanitation policies are to your company as a whole.
Training and education can massively improve buy-in for cleaning and sanitation, but involving other departments in the actual microbial testing process may help even more. While the manual method for microbial enumeration requires a contained laboratory, some rapid microbial method (RMM) technologies allow testing to take place near production lines. Instead of carting samples from one end of a campus to the other, microbiologists can train manufacturing personnel to collect and incubate those samples themselves. Once these workers have collected samples and observed test results firsthand, they may realize just how susceptible their production lines are to contamination – and how important it is for everyone to work together to maintain clean, safe environments.
One of the best ways to create a more efficient quality control environment is to implement automated, growth-based RMM – technologies that accelerate the testing process and automate a variety of time-consuming and repetitive tasks.
If you're interested in learning more about this timesaving technology, contact as today for a free product demonstration or consultation.