• Document: Laboratory Skills. Training Handbook Charlotte Bailey Vicki Barwick
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Laboratory Skills Training Handbook Charlotte Bailey Vicki Barwick AM Laboratory Skills Training Handbook Charlotte Bailey Vicki Barwick May 2007 ISBN 978-0-948926-25-9 1 Introduction 1.1 The need for a laboratory skills training handbook Although analysis of samples is frequently carried out by using sophisticated instruments, the importance of basic laboratory skills cannot be overlooked. The majority of instruments require calibration via the analysis of sets of calibration standards. It is therefore essential that analysts are able to prepare such solutions accurately. The analyst also needs to be able to handle and prepare samples correctly and be able to make ‘routine’ measurements, such as measurements of pH, reliably. Laboratories are increasingly being required to demonstrate the competence of their staff to carry out particular tasks and to document how competence was assessed. As well as sound practical skills, analysts should have at least a basic understanding of important quality issues such as method validation, traceability and quality control. The aim of this handbook is to provide a basic training package in key laboratory skills and to provide an introduction to important quality topics. Those responsible for training analysts can use the handbook to help plan training programmes. Trainees can use the handbook as a guide to best practice for a range of laboratory skills and to gain a basic understanding of quality issues. 1.2 Structure of the handbook and how to use it This handbook is divided into two sections. Part A is aimed at the trainee analyst. Chapter A1 contains the essential health and safety information that analysts should be familiar with to enable them to work safely in the laboratory. It also covers the selection of test methods and equipment plus key aspects to consider when planning and carrying out an analysis. Chapter A2 covers sample handling and storage. Chapter A3 covers the key laboratory skills that analysts need in order to be able to carry out analytical work with the required level of accuracy. There are questions relating to each ‘skill’ to test understanding. Chapter A4 introduces the key topics relating to quality assurance and quality control that analysts should be familiar with. Finally, Chapter A5 addresses data handling and reporting of results. Part B of the handbook is aimed at those responsible for planning and carrying out the training of analysts. For each of the key laboratory skills covered in Chapter A3 there are key learning points, suggestions for assessing competence and observations which may indicate that retraining is required. 1.3 A note about units of volume Volumes can be expressed in a number of different ways, e.g. cm3, mL, dm3, L. In this handbook we have used millilitres (mL) and litres (L) as the units of volume. However, you may encounter cm3 and dm3 in other texts or standard operating procedures. Remember that 1 mL is equivalent to 1 cm3 and that 1 L is equivalent to 1 dm3 (and that 1 L contains 1000 mL). 1.4 Acknowledgements Production of this handbook was supported under contract with the Department of Trade and Industry as part of the National Measurement System Valid Analytical Measurement (VAM) programme. The authors would like to thank everyone who provided suggestions on the content of the handbook, in particular, members of the VAM Clinical, Food, Industrial and © LGC Limited 2007 Environment Reference Materials User Groups, and members of the ACB Education Committee. We would also like to thank Pete Colwell (LGC), Andy Earls (LGC), Martyn Egerton (West Park Hospital, Epsom), Stephen Halloran (Royal Surrey County Hospital) and Elizabeth Prichard (LGC) for reviewing and commenting on drafts of the handbook. © LGC Limited 2007 Contents PART A: INFORMATION FOR THE ANALYST 1 A1 WORKING IN THE LABORATORY 1 A1.1 Health and safety issues 1 A1.2 Method and equipment selection 4 A1.2.1 Method selection 4 A1.2.2 Equipment selection 5 A1.3 The importance of standard operating procedures 6 A1.4 Carrying out an analysis 7 A2 SAMPLE HANDLING AND STORAGE 9 A2.1 Receiving samples

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