4.5.3 Facility Design

Design of the facility is important in providing a barrier to protect persons working outside the laboratory from biohazardous agents that may be accidentally released inside the laboratory.  Laboratory management is responsible for providing facilities commensurate with the laboratory's function.  Described below are three facility designs in ascending order by level of containment.  This is a brief description of the actual facility requirements for each level of containment.  The requirements for each level are detailed in their entirety in Section 6, Biosafety Level Criteria. 

The Basic Laboratory provides general space appropriate for work with defined biohazardous agents that are not associated with disease processes in healthy adults and do not colonize in humans.  All activities are regularly conducted on the open bench using standard laboratory practices. 

The Containment Laboratory provides general space appropriate for work with biohazardous agents or potentially biohazardous materials when the hazard levels are low and laboratory personnel can be adequately protected by standard laboratory practice.  Work is commonly conducted on open benches with certain operations confined to biological safety cabinets.  Conventional laboratory designs are adequate.  Areas known to be sources of general contamination such as animal rooms and waste staging areas should not be adjacent to media processing areas, tissue culture laboratories or patient care activities.  Public areas and general offices to which non-laboratory staff requires frequent access should be separated from space that primarily supports laboratory functions. 

The High Containment Laboratory has special engineering features that make it possible for laboratory workers to handle hazardous materials. Unique features that distinguish this laboratory from the basic and containment laboratories are provisions for access control and a specialized ventilation system.  The high containment laboratory may be an entire building or a single module or complex of modules within a building.  In all cases, the laboratory is separated from areas open to the public by a controlled access zone. 

The Maximum Containment Laboratory has special engineering and containment features that will allow safe conduct of activities involving biohazardous agents that are extremely hazardous to laboratory workers or that may cause serious epidemic disease.  Although the maximum security lab is usually a separate building, it can be constructed as an isolated area within a building.  The distinguishing characteristic is the provision for secondary barriers to prevent hazardous materials from escaping into the environment.  Such barriers include: sealing all lab openings, installing air locks or liquid disinfectant barriers, adding a contiguous clothing changing room, double door autoclave, biowaste treatment system, separate ventilation system and an exhaust air decontamination system.