How to Design a Safe and Successful Laboratory Design
Laboratories provide professionals and novice scientist with a high-tech technology and environment to conduct their research. An overlooked variable in a safe and successful lab is the design and layout of the laboratory. A well-designed floor plan will provide a smooth and optimized transition around the lab, improving productivity and decreasing accidents. Poor furniture arrangement can lead to accidents delaying research and experiments.
Let’s take a look at what makes a safe and successful floor plan.
Pre-Planning and Site Visit
Before knocking down walls or purchasing lab furniture and equipment; plan a visit to the facility and a meeting with stakeholders, scientist, lab managers, and the design team. Visiting the site will help visualize the space and its limitations. A meeting with all personnel will provide valuable information on what each team needs and their goals. Each group will provide a different perspective on how they will utilize the facility. It is crucial to include stakeholder as they play an important role in funding the project. Failing to include them in the design process will result in future problems impacting design, construction, and long-term lab use.
Comprehensive Equipment List
A comprehensive equipment list should be compiled. During the initial meeting with stakeholder and lab personnel, a detailed list of each group’s needs should be written down. Try to gather as much detailed information from each group. This will give the design team precise dimensions on each piece of furniture and equipment. The team can then render a CAD drawing based on the information that has been gathered.
Here is a list of a few things that should be on your list:
- Chemicals that will be used in the laboratory
- Tabletop material
- Lab equipment model and dimensions
- Type of Casework
- Ventilation and utilities
- Storage cabinets for hazardous liquids
- Computer workstations
Lab Ventilation and Utilities
If the lab team requires a Fume Hood or a method of disposing of waste, it is important to plan plumbing, electrical wiring and vent systems. Our detailed floor plan created by our design team can help contractors plan around your layout. What if the lab is not being constructed from the ground up? An existing floor plan of ventilation, electrical wiring, and other utilities can help the lab designer layout their design accordingly.
Emergency Exit Routes
In case of an emergency, laboratory personnel must be able to quickly evacuate the facility. Each laboratory must have a clear emergency exit route. Lab furniture and equipment must not obstruct an exit and have at least two exit routes. A laboratory designer will need to keep this in mind when designing their layout.
Design with Flexibility in Mind
A modular or flexible furniture system will allow the laboratory to support future layout changes. Modular casework includes the traditional millwork with the added benefit of adaptability. This type of system ends the “tear-out and replace” cycle of traditional laboratory casework. However, the cost of this type of furniture maybe 25% more than the traditional fixed casework. Consult with your team to determine if the investment is the right solution for your facility.
Chemical Storage Location
Laboratories conducting chemical experiments, plan on implementing a chemical storage area. With the help of your lab team, identify the types of chemicals and gases that require storage. This will prevent a potential accident.
Open or Closed Lab layout
A new tread in laboratory design is the “open” layout, a floor plan with few walls and enclosed rooms. This allows researches and support staff to share a single space. Teams share the same space, equipment, and bench space. A “closed” or traditional floor plan segments each team into its own workspace.
Use this list as a starting point before starting construction or purchasing equipment. Remember a safe and successful laboratory starts with a well-designed floor plan.