Temperature Control Plan: Safe Storage

what is a risk control plan room temperature storage

A risk control plan for room temperature storage is a strategy to mitigate potential hazards associated with storing items at room temperature. This is particularly important for pharmaceutical products, medications, and other sensitive items that require specific temperature and humidity conditions to maintain their potency and integrity.

Room temperature storage typically falls within a range of 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), but this can vary depending on different definitions and standards. To ensure the safety and effectiveness of stored items, it is crucial to identify and assess potential risks, such as sunlight exposure, humidity, and heating/cooling fluctuations.

By implementing controlled room temperature (CRT) storage solutions, such as specialised cabinets, facilities can maintain precise temperature control, reducing the risk of spoilage or loss of potency. These CRT cabinets feature digital temperature controllers and forced air directional refrigeration systems to ensure uniform temperatures at all times.

Additionally, conducting regular risk assessments and implementing control measures are essential steps in managing and eliminating risks. This includes identifying hazards, assessing their significance and likelihood of occurrence, and prioritising areas for action.


Controlled Room Temperature (CRT) Storage Cabinets

CRT cabinets maintain a temperature range of 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). This is in line with the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) general chapter 1079, which states that pharmaceuticals must be stored according to the conditions outlined by the manufacturers' stability testing. The temperature range for USP 1079 CRT is defined as 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 75°F), with acceptable excursions based on mean kinetic temperatures.

CRT storage cabinets feature a digital microprocessor temperature controller and a forced air directional refrigeration system to ensure temperature uniformity. They come in a range of sizes, from undercounter units to double-door cabinets, to suit specific storage needs. These cabinets are widely used in pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, nursing/care homes, and GP surgeries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that medicines designed to be stored at room temperature should be kept within a range of 15°C to 25°C to ensure their efficacy. Controlled room temperature cabinets are a reliable and precise option for maintaining these temperature requirements, offering a cost-effective alternative to air conditioning. They also eliminate fluctuations in room temperature due to factors such as heatwaves or faulty air conditioning.

To ensure compliance with pharmaceutical regulatory requirements, it is crucial to have a clear strategy and the right tools for maintaining optimal room temperatures. This includes understanding the USP guidelines, conducting a survey of climate control systems, implementing methods for climate monitoring, and establishing protocols for managing temperature and humidity irregularities.

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Risk assessment for cool rooms

A cool room, or cold room, is an enclosed structure that maintains a temperature between +2.0°C to +8.0°C. They are used for the storage of pharmaceutical products, as well as for the growth of cells and organisms, and for general chemistry and biology.

Step 1: Identify the Hazards

Identify all possible hazards in the cool room, including day-to-day activities and medium to long-term risks. Consult with operators who work in the area and review incident reports to help identify hazards. Some common hazards in cool rooms include:

  • Spills or vaporization of toxic substances due to closed air circulation.
  • Mold growth due to moisture, which can lead to mycological contamination of research projects and pose health risks from inhalation of spores.
  • Rust, corrosion, or degradation of shelves and other surfaces due to moisture.
  • Oxygen displacement and suffocation hazards caused by dry ice, liquid nitrogen, or compressed gas.
  • Explosion hazards from flammable liquids such as solvents or alcohols.
  • Health and safety risks from hazardous or volatile chemicals, volatile acids, and toxic substances.
  • Food or beverage contamination.
  • Mold growth and contamination of research materials from cardboard, wood, cloth, or paper.

Step 2: Assess the Risk

Once the hazards have been identified, assess the potential harm they may cause and the likelihood of incidents occurring. Use a risk classification matrix to help evaluate the significance of each risk.

Step 3: Control the Risk (Mitigation)

This is the most critical step in the process. Not all risks can be eliminated, so it is important to prioritize and implement measures to minimize their impact. Some risks may require immediate action, while others may take more time and preparation. Use the hierarchy of risk control figures to guide your mitigation strategies, starting with the highest level of protection and reliability.

Step 4: Review Control Measures

Once the risk assessment is complete and control measures are in place, implement a process to review the controls regularly. This can be done during safety meetings or staff meetings, and operators must be consulted. Keep records of all risk management documentation to demonstrate compliance and capture plans for change.

Additional Considerations for Cool Rooms:

  • Ensure the cool room is booked prior to use, and all workers have read and signed the associated risk assessment.
  • Keep the door closed as much as possible to maintain temperature.
  • Ensure workers wear appropriate clothing, including warm layers under lab coats if necessary.
  • No lone working - always have at least two people working inside the cool room and a third person outside who is aware of the work being carried out.
  • Set timers/alarms to indicate the maximum time workers can stay in the room and enforce minimum break times.
  • Keep the room as clean as possible to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Follow guidelines for the storage of pharmaceutical products, including maintaining the required temperature range during transportation.


Optimal potency and temperature uniformity

Achieving optimal potency and temperature uniformity in room-temperature storage is crucial for maintaining the efficacy and safety of various products, especially pharmaceuticals. Here are some key considerations and guidelines to ensure optimal potency and temperature uniformity:

Understanding Room Temperature

Firstly, it's important to define what is meant by "room temperature." While it may colloquially refer to a comfortable indoor temperature, typically around 20–22 °C or 20–25 °C, this range can vary depending on context and industry. For pharmaceuticals, the United States Pharmacopeia-National Formulary (USP-NF) defines controlled room temperature as 20–25 °C, with allowable excursions between 15–30 °C. The European Pharmacopoeia defines it as 15–25 °C, while the Japanese Pharmacopeia defines "ordinary temperature" as 15–25 °C and room temperature as 1–30 °C. These definitions are essential for establishing storage guidelines.

Temperature Uniformity

Temperature uniformity is critical for ensuring that products are stored at the correct temperature. Non-uniform temperatures can create hot and cold spots, leading to product degradation and safety risks. Pharmaceutical-grade storage equipment is designed to maintain tight uniformity, typically within one degree across all areas of the cabinet. This helps ensure that the stored items are consistently maintained within the optimal temperature range.

Storage Equipment

The choice of storage equipment plays a significant role in achieving optimal potency and temperature uniformity. Purpose-built or pharmaceutical-grade units are highly recommended for drug storage. These units often feature microprocessor-based temperature control systems and fan-forced air circulation, promoting uniform temperatures and quick recovery from temperature excursions. The use of medical-grade refrigerators is crucial for complying with regulatory requirements and ensuring drug efficacy.

Monitoring and Mapping

To ensure temperature uniformity, it is essential to utilise temperature monitoring equipment, such as digital data loggers, which can provide accurate temperature readings at regular intervals. Additionally, temperature mapping involves placing probes at various locations within the storage unit to identify any hotspots or cold spots. By mapping the temperature distribution, adjustments can be made to improve uniformity.

Stability Testing

Stability testing assesses how well a storage unit maintains the set temperature, even during compressor and auto-defrost cycles. It helps identify any fluctuations that may impact product potency. Qualification procedures should be conducted regularly to guarantee stability and proper functionality. This includes documenting temperature profiles when the unit is empty and when it's loaded, as well as during power failures and door openings.

Regulatory Compliance

It is crucial to adhere to regulatory guidelines, such as those provided by organisations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). These guidelines offer temperature ranges and storage recommendations to ensure the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals. Deviating from these recommendations can lead to loss of potency, patient harm, and financial losses.

Handling and Transportation

The handling and transportation of products, especially pharmaceuticals, play a vital role in maintaining optimal potency. It's important to minimise exposure to extreme temperatures, light, and humidity during transportation. Proper packaging and insulation are essential to protect the products from adverse conditions. Additionally, the use of temperature-controlled containers or vehicles can help maintain stable temperatures during transportation.

Other Factors Affecting Potency

In addition to temperature, other factors can influence the potency of pharmaceuticals and other products. These include light exposure, humidity, and packaging. Light and humidity can accelerate degradation, while improper packaging may affect sterility. Understanding these factors and implementing appropriate measures, such as using opaque or airtight containers, can help maintain product potency.

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Climate-controlled storage

In addition to protecting your belongings, climate-controlled storage units can also provide comfort while you're accessing your items. If you live in an area with extreme temperatures or high humidity, moving items in and out of a non-climate-controlled unit can be unpleasant.

When choosing a climate-controlled storage unit, consider the temperature range offered, as well as the security and maintenance of the facility. Some units also offer features like keypad access and video surveillance to ensure the safety of your belongings. The size of the unit is another important factor, ranging from 25 square feet to 300+ square feet, depending on your needs.

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Humidity control

Understanding the Risks of High Humidity

  • Mould and Mildew Growth: Excessive moisture in the air can lead to mould and mildew growth, which can ruin stored items, including furniture, electronics, artwork, antiques, documents, and clothing.
  • Wood Damage: Humidity can cause wood furniture to crack, rot, and warp.
  • Rust: Electronic connections and metal items may rust in humid conditions, reducing their functionality and leading to malfunction.
  • Paper Rot: Moisture can cause paper products, such as documents and photographs, to warp or even disintegrate.
  • Odours and Bacteria: High humidity creates an ideal environment for the growth of odour-causing bacteria, especially in cold and damp locations.

Implementing Humidity Control Measures

  • Use HVAC Systems: Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems play a crucial role in maintaining stable temperature and humidity levels. Ensure your HVAC system is properly sized and maintained for effective humidity control.
  • Commercial-Grade Dehumidifiers: Invest in high-quality, commercial-grade dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture from the air. These are especially important in extreme climates where HVAC systems may not be sufficient.
  • Maintain Ideal Humidity Levels: Aim for a humidity level of around 50% to 55% in storage areas. This range minimizes the risk of moisture buildup and helps protect stored items.
  • Regular Monitoring and Maintenance: Regularly check and maintain your humidity control equipment to ensure optimal performance. This includes checking for leaks, fixing cracks in walls or ceilings, and ensuring all stored items are completely dry before placing them in storage.
  • Climate-Controlled Storage Units: Consider renting climate-controlled storage units, which are specifically designed to maintain safe levels of humidity and temperature. These units are ideal for storing valuable and sensitive items.
  • Proper Packaging and Storage: Properly package and store items to prevent humidity damage. This may include using furniture blankets, hanging clothing in wardrobe boxes, and ensuring all items are thoroughly dry before storage.

Creating a Comprehensive Strategy

  • Define Temperature and Humidity Ranges: Establish the ideal temperature and humidity ranges for different room types based on the items being stored.
  • Survey Climate Control Systems: Work with facilities managers to identify and assess all climate control systems, equipment, maintenance schedules, and any necessary upgrades.
  • Implement Monitoring Methods: Utilize climate monitoring tools and automated documentation systems to track temperature and humidity levels.
  • Establish Protocols for Irregularities: Develop clear protocols for managing temperature and humidity irregularities, including defined parameters, control settings, and designated staff responsibilities.
  • Schedule Regular System Checks: Create a schedule for monitoring activities, documentation, and communications to ensure the most current information and regulations are implemented.
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Frequently asked questions

A risk control plan for room temperature storage involves identifying and mitigating hazards that may affect stored items. This includes maintaining a consistent temperature and ensuring the storage area is secure and protected from external factors such as sunlight exposure, humidity, and heating/cooling fluctuations.

The ideal temperature range for room temperature storage depends on the specific requirements and guidelines. Generally, room temperature is considered to be between 15°C and 25°C, but it can vary from 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C) in controlled room temperature settings.

Climate-controlled storage units maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level throughout the year. This helps protect sensitive items such as electronics, paper products, wine, and fabric from damage caused by extreme temperature fluctuations and high humidity.

Not using climate-controlled storage can lead to issues such as mould, mildew, and shrinkage. Sensitive items may also be damaged by extreme temperature changes, resulting in warping, splitting, or cracking.

The need for climate-controlled storage depends on the items being stored. If you plan to store wooden items, electronics, antiques, musical instruments, or other sensitive possessions, climate-controlled storage is highly recommended to maintain their condition and prevent damage.

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