How to submit samples safely

How to submit samples safely

Not only is the sampling, identification and management of asbestos important to reduce the risk of asbestos, but so is the way samples are submitted to the laboratory. Our junior analyst, Kathryn Mackay writes about how samples should be submitted to the lab, to reduce the chances of accidental exposure and cross contamination.

In the asbestos management industry, it is imperative that care is taken to protect worker’s health at every step of the process, from sampling to disposal. At Focus Analytics, we have minimum requirements for the state in which samples are received to protect the health of our workers and clients, as well as to ensure that no cross-contamination of samples occurs.

All bulk samples must be double-bagged in sealed individual bags. Samples should then be grouped into their separate jobs and placed into larger resealable bags. The Chain of Custody (CoC) can also be placed into this large outer bag. Samples should all be separated – to ensure no false positives arise from loose fibres.

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Soil samples should arrive in appropriately sized, fully-sealed containers. Focus Analytics provides containers free of charge for both semi-quantitative and presence/absence soil testing. Using the correct sized containers ensures both the safety of staff and clients, and avoids any delay in processing time due to incorrect sample size.

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Air samples should also be double-bagged and with an appropriate CoC form.

A common mistake we see is the CoC being placed into a single bag with the sample. This creates an issue as the Chain of Custody must be removed for the job to be booked into our system. If the CoC is removed on the front desk, there is potential for asbestos fibres to be released, which is a risk to our staff. When this occurs, the CoC must be removed in one of our cabinets to eliminate the risk of exposure – which can disrupt the flow of samples and affect turnaround times.

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We absolutely cannot accept any samples which are unbagged, spilling or cannot be sealed. The Chain of Custody must also be correctly filled out to avoid delays in processing the samples. It is important to use the correct CoC form for the analysis required as the information required for processing may differ between analysis types.

Having separate CoCs for each different analysis request (bulk, air or soil) ensures that administration delays are minimal as it allows us to efficiently categorise your samples. The less time spent sorting and processing, the quicker our analysts can deliver your results.

Overall, safe submission of samples and correct paperwork will not only protect the health of you, our courier drivers, and our staff, but will also help us to deliver on our great turnaround times. If you need any gear to help you submit samples safely (sample bags, courier bags, soil jars or air cowls), do not hesitate to get in touch!