The pharmaceutical industry places a high importance on safety, and this includes the handling of materials. Within pharmaceutical manufacturing, it is crucial to have systems and procedures in place to ensure that materials and equipment are handled safely.
There are a number of key considerations when it comes to managing safe material handling in pharmaceutical manufacturing:
- Ensuring that all raw materials and finished products are properly labelled and stored
- Having proper ventilation and lighting in storage and manufacturing areas
- Regular cleaning and maintenance of storage and manufacturing areas
- Providing training to employees on safe material handling procedures
- Using the correct equipment and technology for material movement
By following these key considerations, pharmaceutical manufacturers can help to ensure the safe handling of materials and equipment in their facilities.
Let’s take a look at each more in-depth.
1. Ensuring Materials Are Labelled & Stored Correctly
One of the key ways to ensure the safe treatment of materials is by ensuring that all materials are properly labelled and stored. This means that employees will know exactly what they are handling and where it needs to go – particularly important when dealing with large scale production, where things can easily get lost or confused.
Labels should be clear and easy to read and should include information such as the name of the material, its strength and dosage, the batch number, the expiration date and any special handling instructions. A system for traceability should also be established so every batch of product can be traced back to its raw materials.
It is also important to store materials in the correct areas according to their hazard class. For example, flammable materials should be stored away from ignition sources, and corrosive materials should be stored away from food products.
Similarly, any equipment being used to move hazardous or precious loads need to be up to the job; fuel-powered machines are a huge safety risk in flammable environments and the correct steps need to be taken to minimise the risk of injury, damage to goods and downtime due to lost or damaged materials and infrastructure.
2. Having Proper Ventilation and Lighting
Safely storing hazardous materials requires careful attention to ventilation and lighting. Adequate ventilation helps to prevent the accumulation of harmful vapours, while proper lighting minimises the chance of accidents. Employees should be aware of the location of emergency exits and fire extinguishers and should know how to safely handle hazardous materials. By taking these precautions, employers can help to create more secure manufacturing processes and a safer working environment.
3. Cleaning & Maintenance of Storage and Manufacturing Areas
Regular cleaning and maintenance of areas is crucial in ensuring the safe manufacture and handling of materials. Storage and manufacturing areas should be kept clean and free of debris and should be well-maintained with the proper components in place, so that any potential hazards are identified and addressed quickly.
4. Providing Training to Employees On Safe Material Handling Procedures
It is essential that employees are properly trained on how to handle materials safely. This includes understanding the hazards associated with each material and knowing the correct procedures and processes for handling them safely.
Employees should also be trained in how to use the equipment properly, so that there is minimal risk of injury when moving materials around the facility. Refresher courses should be regularly undertaken to ensure staff are up to date on the latest policies, and machines should be serviced regularly. This also reduces the risk of damage to loads and surrounding factory infrastructure.
5. Using the Correct Equipment for Material Movement
Pharmaceutical manufacturing typically takes place in cleanroom environments, and often a more manual handling approach is used. However, this increases risk to both employees and the materials being moved and takes people away from tasks of higher value.
Due to their nature, cleanroom environments are usually tight spaces so, com