Common Problems With Paper-Based Records and How to Combat The

February 14th 2022

Paper-based records such as laboratory notebooks, or simply scrap paper or rough notes can cause several problems for laboratories. Paperless labs are looking to be the labs of the future, but why exactly should you consider the switch and how do you go about it?

The first problem, and it’s a big one, has to be the environmental impact. Paperless labs are just one small step that scientific businesses can make to reduce their environmental impact. More paper usage, leads to more deforestation, which leads to increased carbon footprint, and in 2022 businesses should be doing whatever they can to reduce this. By removing paper records completely from the business can help to reduce the business’ environmental impact.

Paper-based records are also the most insecure way to store data. Data, especially scientific data, can be extremely sensitive, and needs to be protected. A misplaced paper-record could not only put the business in breach of a Data Protection, but it could jeopardise future experiments. If you switch to a paperless laboratory, and store all data electronically, that risk is drastically reduced.

Human error can also be a problem. If a machine is taking your recordings and storing them, that ensures 100% accuracy providing your instrument is properly calibrated. For many guidelines, regulations, and accreditations, this is a necessity. Moreover, it can ruin years of hard work in the lab if mistakes are recorded.

Laboratories, often have to be a clean and clutter-free environment. Paper records are another addition to a surface that may be exposed to chemicals or bacteria that is unnecessary. Paper cannot be kept clean in the way that computers or machinery can, therefore this may add in another risk to health or to the experiments.

Paperless labs are also much more effective for team working. In the past, the use of lab notebooks has caused problems when other team members come to take over an experiment or line of work, and they are trying to pick up from another person’s notes. If there is no standardisation, this can cause problems for the continuity and therefore reliability of the results.

But what if paper-based records are required for part of your UKAS Accrediation?

You may be thinking, if you are a lab that holds UKAS Accreditation, and a paper trail is required, that there is no way your business could go paperless. And, as it stands you may be right. However, you must also consider that the records kept must be completely accurate and therefore, having electronic versions run parallel is of upmost importance.

Having a LIMS system, an ELN and data collection technology not only saves time and effort but combats all the problems above. Why not take the step in moving towards becoming a paperless laboratory? Contact us today on +44 (0)1207 290 266 for more information on how VIDA can help you do just that!

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