Laboratories are designed to maintain the health and well-being of occupants. Potentially hazardous substances used in different laboratories include chemicals, radioactive materials and infectious biological agents. These materials can be manipulated daily as part of experiments, research or production.
Safety must remain the primary goal of a laboratory.
Regulations, guidelines and standards to ensure laboratory safety have been published by many industry groups, Complying with those requirements is a primary step in achieving laboratory safety objectives.
Laboratory safety has to be balanced with worker comfort. Comfort primarily is concerned with maintaining appropriate temperatures and air velocities. Worker productivity will suffer if the space is too warm or too cool.
Similarly, spaces with high air currents are perceived as drafty and cool.
Air currents also impact safety by limiting containment in fume hoods and other protective equipment.
Ease of use of the laboratory equipment is also a factor in worker comfort.
Laboratories employing highly specialized equipment, like glove boxes, may be safest. However, this equipment carries an ease of use penalty inappropriate for the hazards encountered in most chemical laboratories.
Laboratory equipment and layout must allow staff to perform necessary tasks with minimal additional effort.
Laboratories are normally designed as once-through systems, without recirculation Conditioning, supplying and exhausting the large volumes of air used in laboratories consumes sizeable quantities of energy.
Reducing these energy costs has a direct impact on a laboratory's bottom line. Laboratories must be designed so that energy efficiency gains do not reduce safety and comfort.
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