Ventilation Safety Recommendations for Your Lab Design

FanGood laboratory design is not just about efficient workstation layouts, component placements, and emergency exits. Dedicated lab furniture, storage units, and other components must be carefully and mindfully placed to avoid tripping hazards and other lab safety issues.

But that’s not all. Ventilation is a key lab safety factor that must be considered also in any lab design. Every lab must include the ability to safely remove contaminated air and circulate sufficiently cooled or heated air to prevent unwanted spontaneous reactions or overheated equipment.

Here are some considerations for incorporating safety cabinets, fume hoods, and canopy hoods into your new lab design or renovation project.

Biological Safety Cabinets

A biological containment system is only effective if airflow around the cabinet remains within spec during use. Thus, every biological safety cabinet must be installed and tested appropriately to ascertain sufficient airflow. OSHA states that biological safety cabinets must be certified each year—but also every time they are moved.

This means that if your renovated lab design entails rearranging equipment, you will need to be certain there is sufficient airflow in the new location, and also have the cabinet re-tested after the new setup is complete.

Unlike mass spectrometers, which can easily be moved around the lab on dedicated lab furniture with casters, your biological safety cabinet needs to remain where it is installed. Otherwise, it will need to be recertified every time a move occurs.

Chemical Fume Hoods

Fume hoods provide the primary control for protecting lab techs who work with flammable or toxic chemicals. This means that they hold a primary place in any lab safety process. As with biological safety cabinets, OSHA requires that chemical fume hoods provide sufficient airflow throughout any lab procedure.

When creating any new lab design, care must be taken to ensure that nothing will block the airflow through the baffles or baffle exhaust slots. Sufficient safe storage for all chemicals must also be located nearby, so that technicians are not tempted to store chemicals within the fume hood, which is also against OSHA regulations. Including a backup power generator for each fume hood is also recommended to prevent accidental loss of airflow during any power failure.

Canopy Hoods

It is important for any lab designer to remember the difference between fume hoods and canopy hoods. Canopy hoods are only intended to vent heat in general, or for specific processes, such as autoclaves.

While industrial-level ventilation may not be necessary, canopy hoods must still vent air outside the lab workspace, and preferably outside the building completely. Canopy hoods are also not meant to be used for personal workstations, so an adequate lab design must allow for this.

Lab Safety Knowhow for You

To learn more about the ventilation and electrical needs of today’s working labs, or to find out how dedicated lab furniture—including our customizable lab benches for mass spectrometry—can increase the safety and efficiency of your lab, reach out to talk with us today.