Re: [Histonet] working standards for techs in industry

I work in research and this is something that takes time and study...but can 
be a great evaluation tool. 

First start with having your technicians document their daily activities. 
This gives you an idea of productivity of each of your technicians.  Then you can 
talk with them as a group and individually about what is expected.

Trimming - what species or specimen, how many, time spent on each.  Most 
technicians of the same experience level should be within 1 (work order) of each 
other.  Also use this a guide to see if that one person whom is excelling (or 
speedy) is consistent and providing quality work.  If the work of this one 
individual is good have them explain to the other individuals what makes them so 
productive - a good trainer for the lab in fact...and less time for individuals 
who may be struggling for technique reasons.....the thing to enforce is that 
good things can come from this. 

Embedding - set standards for unloading, cleaning the processor, reloading, 
embedding, scrapping, sorting and accessioning blocks, pulling or preparing 
slides, even retrims.  Give them a time frame in which all of this should be 
complete.  Say the standard is 2.0 - 2.5 hours for 2 technicians embedding 300 
blocks with the above tasks completed.  Then they take their 1st break (start 
time 7:30, 10 minute break at 9:30-10:00, sounds reasonable to me, then they are 
refreshed and ready to begin the next task).

Microtoming - Again have them document time shaving and number of blocks 
microtomed and on slides.  Try to set a standard.....expect that someone whom is 
on the microtome (proficient) all day should get between 120-180 blocks shaved 
and on slides (with the exception of bone and eyes which should be shaved much 
slower for quality purposes).  Shave down next series of blocks while the 
waterbath is warming and blocks are chilling.  As one set of blocks are cut add 
the next shaved set so that their is a flow to what is occurring. 

Staining/coverslipping - Number of slides in a period of time...ex. 300 
slides in 2 hours.

Use QC of slides as a good evaluation tool as this should be done prior to 
submission to the pathologist anyway.  Log slides nonacceptable and document the 
recut and artifact...great evaluation tool for correcting errors.  
Technicians initially may not like it but if they see that it is a quality issue they 
would rather it be the manager than the pathologist you can bet the bank on 

I think the key to success (throughout the evaluation period) is not having 
your technician trying to do too many different task throughout the day.  This 
is when you start to see unproductive times or confusion about what is 
actually occurring in the laboratory.  This can or will change with proficient and 
self conscious staff over time. 

Another important thing is to have all things pertinent to the study done 
prior to the start.  I call this study preparation - cassettes, slides and all 
paperwork prepared before the start of the study so that people are not waiting 
to use the printers at the same time to print their cassettes or slides prior 
to working on their specimens - also avoids any transcription errors with 
people constantly changing the printers.

Another thing to consider is having staff validate or do verification first 
thing in the morning, change out decal or solutions...those type things that 
are quick and over....suggest that the person whom may do this put their blocks 
to be cut on ice and set up their waterbath first so that those things that 
require time are occurring while they are concentrating on getting other things 
done in the lab - not change out decal, then set up waterbaths and go sit at 
your desk or 15-20 minutes.

It can be very difficult to teach someone how to use their time effectively 
in the laboratory without just getting them accustomed to a standard or set 
expectations - as sometimes self motivation is the issue.

Hope this helps, and I would gladly take suggestions as anything is helpful 
for productivity and evaluation! 

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