Laboratory Operations

As research activities ramp-up in on campus and in our leased facilities, we will post frequently asked questions and answers to the list below.

Please note that individual schools may post their own school-specific processes and procedures to their web pages. Check your individual school's site frequently for the latest information.

Related FAQs

Should gloves be worn?

Gloves should be worn when working in the labs or while cleaning and disinfecting. Wearing gloves in public spaces is not recommended by public health officials at this time.

Who will be ordering sanitation supplies for each building?

Hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies will be provided for public spaces and wipes or spray bottles and disinfectant will be provided to dry labs upon request (contact your designated facilities/building coordinator to create a request or report supply shortages). Wet labs customarily maintain necessary cleaning supplies (e.g., ethanol and paper towels). For further instruction on sanitizing work spaces, please refer to OESO’s guidance for reopening labs here.

Have guidelines been developed for sanitizing equipment such as microscopes? What about computers and keyboards?

Contact equipment manufacturers for advice on cleaning products and disinfectants that can be used on specialized equipment that may be damaged by harsh cleaners (including microscopes and other sensitive lab machinery). OlympusZeissNikonLeica, and GE Healthcare have posted recommendations for disinfection, and Agilent has some helpful webinars. OESO (labsafety@dm.duke.edu) can also help with these determinations if lab staff have Instructions for Use or similar documentation for a specific piece of equipment. For cleaning electronics, computers, and keyboards, avoid the use of spray cleaners or harsher disinfectants—use 70% ethanol wipes, when possible. Gently wipe the surface until visibly wet and let evaporate. If wipes are not available, a dry cloth soaked in 70% ethanol can be used; avoid getting liquid into equipment openings.

How do we teach trainees new procedures if we can’t be near one other?

Social distancing poses special challenges for teaching new techniques. Some options for teaching techniques that require close proximity are listed below:

  • If possible, delay teaching that technique. This may not be feasible, but eliminating close contact is ideal.
     
  • Use technology to demonstrate the techniques. This could mean recording yourself performing the technique and narrating what you’re doing or using Zoom or WebEx to show the technique and then allow the trainee to try the technique while still having live feedback.
     
  • If live, in-person training is the only feasible method (high-risk activity, high-value samples or equipment) use chemical splash goggles or a face shield to protect the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) of both the trainer and the trainee in addition to other recommended PPE such as gloves and face masks.

How do I facilitate laboratory equipment repairs by external service providers during ramp-up?

We understand the need for external equipment maintenance and repair personnel to visit Duke labs as we ramp-up research activities. It is the expectation that all outside service providers will follow Duke’s established sanitation and distancing standards during their time in our facilities and leased spaces. While we have been advised against requiring symptom attestations for external visitors, a good practice would be to ask the service company to provide you with some details regarding the checks/monitoring they are doing with their employees. Keep this information in your records of the repair visit.

The following general practices should be employed with outside service personnel:

  • When scheduling the service visit, ask that the technician wear a face mask before entering Duke buildings or leased facilities.
     
  • Ask your service technician to call you when they arrive at your building and meet them at the entrance or loading dock to let them in.
     
  • Have a face mask ready in case the technician is not wearing one.
     
  • Orient the technician to the location of sanitizing stations.
     
  • Explain the safety and distancing practices that must be observed while on campus (i.e., proper mask usage, 6 ft distancing, sanitization practices, etc.).
     
  • Escort the service technician to the work area; orient them to the location of sinks for hand washing, sanitizer spray or wipes for clean-up, etc.
     
  • When work is complete, escort the technician out of the building.
     
  • Report any concerns with contractor behavior to your departmental business office.

How will equipment and other deliveries be handled?

During the shutdown, deliveries were directed to a central location for receiving. As buildings are re-opened, local deliveries will resume, but unit coordination will be important in order for things to proceed smoothly. All buildings will remain locked for the near future, and unit leaders will have a process for vendors and delivery companies to enter the building through the loading dock doors. Every lab will designate a point of contact(s) for deliveries via the Campus/SOM Laboratory Information Profile survey that is completed prior to returning to campus.