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4.15 Laboratory Design and Construction

Project Managers planning construction or renovation of a laboratory should include EHS at design scoping phase of the project.

Research Safety lab design elements include:

Americans with Disability Act compliance: This may involve the determination of types and location of fume hoods, safety showers and eyewashes, autoclaves, sinks and other lab equipment.

Chemical inventory: A chemical inventory that includes quantity and intended usage will be expected at Scoping phase of all laboratory projects.

The chemical inventory must also include all cryogenic liquids and compressed gases. A risk assessment must be conducted to determine the need for a gas cabinet, low exhaust diffusers, oxygen monitoring, emergency ventilation shut-off. Specialized storage may be needed for certain chemicals such as acutely toxic, air/water reactive, and controlled substances. Examples include double lock boxes, flammable or explosion proof refrigerators or storage cabinets dedicated to a specific hazard class.

Emergency Showers and Eyewashes: These are required in laboratories that use chemicals that may spill or splash onto anyone working in the lab. Showers are required for volumes greater than a gallon.

Laboratory Ventilation: Air exchange rates are determined by EHS and are based on volatile chemical use, hazardous gas use, and/or biological agents. Other drivers are heat and the exhaust requirements for equipment in the room.

Volatile and corrosive chemicals produce airborne contaminants that must be controlled when in storage as well as when in use. This could include ventilated storage cabinets, a sufficient number of fume hoods, or other enclosures and local exhaust.

The design will also include directional general ventilation in lieu of local exhaust ventilation where it is not possible for the lab population to utilize, such as in Gross Anatomy in the Veterinary College.

Directional airflow relative to the hallway and adjacent rooms must be discussed for all laboratory projects.

Fume hood and other exposure control devices: The type and quantities of fume hoods, location in the lab suite, and face velocity (with minimum velocities) must be determined at design. Local exhaust may include snorkels, canopy, heat extracting hoods, or other types of tables.

Specialty hoods: Wet benches (for corrosive chemical use), solvent benches, and perchloric acid fume hoods (with the washdown feature) must be discussed with EHS to determine requirement and special considerations.

Biological Safety: A review of the nature of proposed research biological agents, including plants or animals, must happen to determine room design elements. The researcher must register with the Institutional Biosafety Committee for work with disease causing agents in humans, animals, and plants. Approval may also be required by the IACUC and the Institutional Review Board.

Specific design elements include:

  • Type and location of biosafety cabinets;
  • Types, location, and electrical requirements for ULT freezers, incubator, growth chambers, and other floor or benchtop equipment;
  • Floor materials, sink locations, and environmental conditions for the room or a support lab.  

Radiation Safety: Users of ionizing radiation require a Cornell Permit. Most non-ionizing radiation equipment requires registration. The following programs are managed by the Radiation Safety group who must be contacted by project managers during the design scoping phase when any proposal involves the use of this equipment. There are specific room requirements.

Lasers: Class 3B and 4 lasers. The facility housing these must be designed to mitigate the laser hazards. These must be registered for use on campus.

Magnet/UV/RF: Magnetic fields are produced by this equipment can be hazardous.

Radiation Producing Equipment includes X-ray equipment (x-ray diffraction, x-ray fluorescence, x-ray radiography, ion implanters, electron microscopes).

Radioactive materials, including unsealed materials and sealed sources.

References (Use most recent versions):

1)    ANSI Z9.5 Laboratory Ventilation

2)    ASHRAE Classification of Laboratory Ventilation Design Levels

3)    ANSI Z358.1 Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment

4)    Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories

5)    National Institutes of Health Design Requirements

6)    Care and Use of Animals

7)    Practical Guide to Containment: Plant Biosafety in Research Greenhouses

8)    Arthropod Containment Guidelines