Avoiding Sample Integrity Issues
Created by: Andrew White
Modified on: Wed, 8 May, 2019 at 12:39 PM
When processing samples for submission to a testing laboratory, there are a few items to be mindful of:
- Sample and data integrity
- Submission defensibility – legal scrutiny or peer review
- Regulatory and contract requirements
These items can be impacted in many ways including how the samples are collected, stored & transported, and how the accompanying Chain of Custody is completed.
To Avoid Breakage During Travel
•Do not overfill coolers, coolers should not exceed 40 lbs
•Evenly distribute soils jars in the cooler
To Avoid High Sample Temperatures
- Ice should be distributed throughout the entire cooler
- Check local weather and add extra ice during “hot spells”
- Assume delays, pack coolers with the assumption that a delay may occur during peak holiday travel times.
To Avoid Missing or Extra Samples
- Always conduct a final layout of the samples and do a count of the number of containers per sample – ensure this number matches what is entered on the COC (also ensures field QC is accounted for)
- Wherever possible, pack all samples contained on the COC in the same cooler – crosschecking with COC as you go to ensure that all samples on the COC have been placed in the cooler, all Label IDs match what is on the COC, and all sample IDs are clearly marked on the COC
To Avoid Incomplete COC or Unclear Analysis
- Use eCOC for submissions to the lab – certain fields are mandatory and built-in “smart logic” assists the user with populating the required information
- Request a Prelog COC from your Bureau Veritas Laboratories Customer Experience Team, who can pre-populate some fields on the COC
- Keep on hand a “complete” COC template to reference in the field. Or create an overlay to highlight where information may be missing
- Give new field techs, or techs that have not been in the field for some time a “test” Chain of Custody to complete properly before they go out in the field
- Fill in COC as day progresses and do a final check of accuracy at the end of the day. Do not rush to log all samples on the COC at the end of the day – this is a major cause of COC errors.
- Always contact your Bureau Veritas Customer Experience Team if you are unsure about what to fill in for a specific analysis
- Do not overfill coolers – Lifting heavy coolers is a major strain on your back and can lead to serious back injuries. Always keep coolers < 40lbs and use proper lifting techniques when moving coolers
- Use caution and required PPE when opening coolers; particularly if using a knife to open the cooler, or if breakage of glass containers has occurred. Carefully inspect the contents of the cooler before reaching in – broken glass can result in serious cuts and the appropriate PPE should be used to safely dispose of it.
- Use caution when handling sample bottles containing preservatives. Although present in small amounts, the preservatives are still corrosive and skin contact can cause redness and severe burning
- When on site – if you are using your cooler as a table, make sure you are sitting so that you are facing site activity. Keep as far away from site activity as possible
- Practice the 3-Point Rule to reduce the likelihood of slips and falls by maintaining 3 or 4 points of contact with equipment, stairs, ladders at all times to ensure maximum stability and support
For additional details on all the integrity checks performed by our sample receipt technicians and how to avoid issues, review our sample integrity checklist here.
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