Tips for A Safe and Successful Lab Move

Sterling lab moves and relocations.

Laboratory moves are meticulous tasks that require careful planning, communication, and execution. These relocations involve not just the physical moving of equipment, but also the safe and proper transport of sensitive biological specimens, in addition to the preservation of ongoing experiments. Every lab move is different, and it is important to find an experienced moving partner knowledgeable in all the regulatory and logistical nuances of lab moves. A good moving partner will help you work through all your specific needs.

While not all-inclusive, this article presents a range of tips and important considerations that will help to ensure a smooth relocation.

Important Considerations When Relocating a Laboratory

  1. Create an Internal Team to Manage the Move:
    a. Assign roles and responsibilities to key personnel within your organization who will act as relocation captains
    b. Ensure regular communication among the team members, including meetings to discuss progress, monitor activity, and sticking to the schedule.
  2. Gather all the External Service Providers Required:
    a.  Assemble a team of external experts such as: IT, engineering, regulatory compliance, health & safety professionals, and especially an experienced laboratory moving company. Often, such a company will either have these experts on hand or are experienced in managing all the individuals involved, making the move easier for you.
    b.  Employ a qualified waste disposal company to ensure proper disposal of waste materials. Again, an experienced mover can handle this for you and streamline the process.
  3. Build a Thorough Plan to Outline and Cover the Scope of the Project- Develop a comprehensive plan that covers every aspect of the move, including budget, timelines, and expected outcomes.
  4. Inventory Equipment and Materials:
    a. Conduct a thorough inventory/evaluation to understand the items to move and their associated risks. This will also identify items to be discarded and/or replaced.
    b. Consider cold-storage requirements and the transport of sensitive equipment. Some equipment is very expensive and has specific needs for calibration and packaging for safe movement.
    c. Biological materials have a whole host of best practices for safe transport as well as numerous regulatory considerations (see below for a few). An experienced mover will help you work through these issues or identify the right external experts to ensure safety for all involved as well as ensure the integrity of the materials and ongoing research.
  5. Chain-of-Custody Considerations – Certain samples require chain-of-custody documentation to ensure the integrity of the samples or specimens. For these materials, it’s vital to keep the chain intact during transportation. This might require you to organize a dedicated person to oversee the chain of custody for specific items.
  6. Post-Move Checks – Once the move is complete, it is important to re-calibrate all equipment that requires it, check the integrity of all samples, and update the lab’s address details with suppliers, partners, and regulatory bodies.
  7. Attention to Detail from Start to Finish:
    Address every minor detail. Even the smallest oversight can impact the relocation’s success.

Key Pointers to Keep in Mind When Moving Biological Specimens

Temperature Control: Ensure biological samples are kept within the recommended temperature range, typically 2-8°C, to maintain their integrity.

Storage Vessels: Utilize containers made of inert materials that are also leak-resistant for storing and transporting specimens.

Protective Packaging: Use cushioning materials like foam or bubble wrap to protect specimens from damage during transportation.

Identification: Clearly mark containers with details about the specimen type, collection date, and other pertinent details.

Record Keeping: All transported specimens must have comprehensive documentation, detailing, their origin, and any necessary permits or licenses for transportation.

Swift Transportation: Minimize the duration of specimen transportation. That will reduce exposure to any environmental factors that might compromise their integrity.

Additional information

The process of packaging and shipping biospecimens is governed by a number of specific regulations, especially if they contain hazardous materials. Important considerations when packing specimens include using multiple layers of packaging, using sufficient absorbent materials, selecting the right coolants, ensuring accurate labeling, and maintaining complete documentation.

When transporting biological materials, especially through public spaces like roads and airways, extreme care and all applicable regulations must be followed. The primary goal of these regulations is to prevent accidental exposure during shipment. Before transportation, communicate all emergency procedures to everyone involved or potentially exposed, use appropriate containers, ensure materials remain upright during transport, label containers correctly, and follow proper personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols.

All personnel who will handle these materials must be trained in the correct packaging methods and safe transportation practices, and be aware of emergency procedures in case of accidents or spills.

Some of the Regulatory Factors When Moving Biological sSpecimens

  1. Understand the relevant federal and state laws and regulations for transport, including those for hazardous materials.
  2. Follow guidelines for packaging and labeling of biological specimens to ensure safe and secure transport.
  3. Ensure that the transport of biological specimens is documented, and that the shipping information accompanies the specimen.
  4. Double-check that the biological specimen is adequately secured to prevent any physical damage during transport.
  5. Confirm that the transport vehicle is appropriate for the type of specimen being transported and the distance it will travel.
  6. Ensure that the transport vehicle is appropriately temperature controlled, if necessary.
  7. Verify that the transport vehicle is properly insured and that the insurance covers the type of specimen being transported.
  8. Check with your mover to confirm that personnel transporting the specimen have the necessary training and experience.
  9. Examine the transport vehicle to see that it is clearly marked to indicate that it contains biological specimens.
  10. Review the safety precautions required with all involved personnel.

Moving a biotech laboratory is no small feat. It requires careful planning, a focus on safety, and effective communication. By taking all the important considerations into account and gathering the best team for the job, the process can be managed efficiently, ensuring a safe and smooth transition while maintaining regulatory compliance and the integrity of your research and samples.

Sterling has moved the Biotech industry for over 25 years, and we have the specialized skills and training critical for the safety and success of lab moves and  life science projects.

From start to finish, we can provide you with a comprehensive solution, covering a complete range of benefits, such as:

  • A Single Source for all Moving Services
  • Competitive Rates
  • Environmentally Focused Practices
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Timeframe Sensitive
  • No Job too Large or too Small
  • No Temp Labor
  • Careful Handling of High-Value Items

Learn more about what we can do for you.

Give us a call today at 978-322-2518 or fill out our online form to schedule a free, on-site consultation.