Far from routine, lab work needs patience

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2012, 12:00am


Each day, Hongkongers consume truckloads of food, drugs, cosmetics and other products. Like invisible guardians, men and women working in laboratories across the city ensure the safety and quality of these items.

Dr Kelvin Leung (right), assistant professor at the chemistry department of the Hong Kong Baptist University, says the city's testing and certification system is well-respected and highly sought-after globally.

'Hong Kong laboratories used to accept many jobs from Western countries,' he says. 'In recent years, many mainland companies have sought the services of Hong Kong laboratories because we are reliable and have a good reputation.'

To work as a laboratory technical officer, one needs a higher diploma or degree in chemistry or science-related subjects, Leung says.

'Newcomers usually start as assistant technical officer. They prepare and analyse samples. They can expect in-house training on how to operate various equipment and the standard steps for tests. One must be patient and have an analytical mind because test results take time to develop,' says Leung.

Laboratory work is far from routine, though many think it's just repeating standard procedures, he adds. 'Technical officers must ensure the quality of products, so they test many items each day. It is very challenging and not routine at all. The data generated are not just figures - they require technical officers' professional judgment on whether the product is safe or not,' he says.