6.3.4 Laboratory Facilities

  • Laboratory doors must be self closing and have locks in accordance with the institutional policies.  The laboratory must be separated from areas that are open to unrestricted traffic flow within the building.  Access to the laboratory is restricted to entry by a series of two self-closing doors.  A clothing change room (anteroom) may be included in the passageway between the two self-closing doors. 
  • Laboratories must have a sink for hand washing.  The sink must be hands-free or automatically operated.  It should be located near the exit door.  If the laboratory is segregated into different laboratories, a sink must also be available for hand washing in each zone.  Additional sinks may be required as determined by the risk assessment.
  • The laboratory must be designed so that it can be easily cleaned and decontaminated.  Carpets and rugs are not permitted.  Seams, Floors, walls, and ceiling surfaces should be sealed.  Spaces around doors and ventilation openings should be capable of being sealed to facilitate space decontamination.  
  1. Floors must be slip resistant, impervious to liquids, and resistant to chemicals.  Consideration should be given to the installation of seamless, sealed, resilient or poured floors, with integral cove bases. 
  2. Walls should be constructed to produce a sealed smooth finish that can be easily cleaned and decontaminated.
  3. Ceilings should be constructed, sealed, and finished in the same general manner as walls.

    Decontamination of the entire laboratory should be considered when there has been gross contamination of the space, significant changes in laboratory usage, for major renovations, or maintenance shut downs.  Selection of the appropriate materials and methods used to decontaminate the laboratory must be based on the risk assessment of the biological agents in use.
  • Laboratory furniture must be capable of supporting anticipated loads and uses.  Spaces between benches, cabinets and equipment should be accessible for cleaning. 
  1. Bench tops must be impervious to water and resistant to heat, organic solvents, acids, alkalis, and other chemicals.
  2. Chairs used in laboratory work must be covered with a non-porous material that can be easily cleaned and decontaminated with appropriate disinfectant.
  • All windows in the laboratory must be sealed. 
  • BSCs must be installed so that fluctuations of the room air supply and exhaust do not interfere with proper operations. BSCs should be located away from doors, heavily traveled laboratory areas, and other possible airflow disruptions.
  • Vacuum lines must be protected with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, or their equivalent.  Filters must be replaced as needed.  Liquid disinfectant traps may be required.
  • An eyewash station must be readily available in the laboratory. 
  • A ducted air ventilation system is required.  The system must provide sustained directional airflow by drawing air in to the laboratory from “clean” areas toward “potentially contaminated” areas.  The laboratory shall be designed such that under failure conditions the airflow will not be reversed.
  1. Laboratory personnel must be able to verify directional airflow.  A visual monitoring device which confirms directional air flow must be provided at the laboratory entry.  Audible alarms should be considered to notify personnel of air flow disruption.
  2. The laboratory exhaust air must not re-circulate to any other area of the building.  
  3. The laboratory building exhaust air exhaust should be dispersed away from occupied areas and from building air intake locations or the exhaust air must be HEPA filtered.  
  • HEPA-filtered exhaust air from Class II biological safety cabinet can be safely re-circulated into the laboratory environment if the cabinet is tested and certified at least annually and operated according to manufacturer’s recommendations.  Biological safety cabinets can also be connected to the laboratory exhaust system by either a thimble (canopy) connection or a direct (hard) connection.  Provisions to assure proper safety cabinet performance and air system operation must be verified.  BSCs should be certified at least annually to assure correct performance.  Class III BSCs must be directly (hard) connected up through the second exhaust HEPA filter of the cabinet.  Supply air must be provided in such a manner that prevents positive pressurization of the cabinet.
  • A method for decontaminating all laboratory wastes should be available in the facility, preferably within the laboratory (e.g., autoclave, chemical disinfection, incineration or other validated decontamination method). 
  • Equipment that may produce infectious aerosols must be contained in devices that exhaust air through HEPA filtration or other equivalent technology before being discharged into the laboratory.  These HEPA filters should be tested and/or replaced at least annually.
  • Facility design consideration should be given to means of decontaminating large pieces of equipment before removal from the laboratory.
  • Enhanced environmental and personal protection may be required by the agent summary statement, risk assessment, or applicable local, state, or federal regulations.  These laboratory enhancements may include, for example, one or more of the following; an anteroom for clean storage of equipment and supplies with dress-in, shower-out capabilities; gas tight dampers to facilitate laboratory isolation; final HEPA filtration of the laboratory exhaust air; laboratory effluent decontamination; and advanced access control devices such as biometrics.  HEPA filter housings should have gas-tight isolation dampers; decontamination ports; and/or bag-in/bag-out (with appropriate decontamination procedures) capability.  The HEPA filter housing should allow for leak testing of each filter and assembly.  The filters and the housing should be certified at least annually.
  • The BSL3 facility design, operational parameters, and procedures must be verified and documented prior to operation.  Facilities must be re-verified and documented at least annually.