Configuration Control

Configuration control is the act of maintaining a project’s documentation, equipment, procedures, and outcomes over the life cycle of the project. In other words, making sure that everyone on a project is on the same page when it comes to change.

Good configuration control includes ensuring that changes are approved with the proper folks and properly communicated to everyone. When it comes to lab safety, this can take on several different forms.

  1. Training: Have a policy of “look, don’t touch” for unqualified individuals, and have new staff only operate under the supervision of a mentor. Make sure training is well-defined and clear as to when staff can operate equipment on their own.
  2. Signs & Markings: Make sure signs offer a clear picture of the situation/ consequences of improper use and a contact for more information. (For example: “Hot Furnace: Do Not Touch – Contact: Rob Haupt”. ) That way, folks have a person to ask if things need to be moved.
  3. Document & Version Control: Make sure that updates in procedures and documents are known to everyone involved and that everyone uses the most recent version.  Hearing about changes using additional forms of communication makes the message more clear. For example, changes to procedures are made on Box with an additional revision number (keeping the old version as well). Additionally, a blog post would be written about the update, and the blog post would be linked to an email or slack. In addition to increasing the chances of the update being seen, there is a paper trail created.
  4. Lab Layout: Design your lab to resist failures: make sure things that shouldn’t be touched hard to touch or otherwise label the correct position of equipment. Another form of this is taping down cables, and using a form of lock out tag out for equipment that should not be run.

Additional Resources:

Resources to look up:

  • Lock-out-tag-out training
  • Training on how to train, and how to design training documents