Laboratory Design and Planning
The labs as such sound as some dark lonely place where people are engrossed in their work without any liveliness in the environment. Life in a lab seems to be boring. Designing a lab is not an easy task. You have to consider the workability of the new design and should give the workers the proper space to work conveniently. The renovation approach should solve any existing problem and make the space more efficient. Before you start the renovation try to identify the current hurdles and possibly improvements expected while redesigning the lab. The renovation process of labs is possible only through proper collaboration and output from the technical staff. The major points which are to be considered while designing a lab are environmental health and safety, compliance as per local authority, managing waste, laboratory ventilation system and area for performing hazardous operations.
Layout: The labs are usually designed considering as a small scale operation without foresight about future extension and inclusion of advanced equipment. Space will not be sufficient enough to allow smooth passage of the fellow employees. The lab is designed giving a maze-like appearance disturbing the work of fellow workers while moving from one part of the lab to another. The immovable structures will be a major hindrance in the expansion of lab, heavy equipment which is installed will likely to pose a problem while moving and allocating a definite space.
When you start the redesigning process, consider an open design, discuss with the good laboratory services company. Adjust the tables and the cabinets at definite places which give more space for work stations and promote the easy flow of people. Make sure you are not blocking common areas such as wash basins or ventilator outlets.
Try to place the machinery next to the employees who most use that equipment. The machines which are used by all should be at such a place which should allow easy flow and movement from all the sections. Efficient designing through use of existing space and the equipment is not an impossible task and it will be quite cost-effective for the organization.
Check the articles which take large space, and their requirement in the area. If there are some equipment which is not used regularly or can be placed at some other location or placing the equipment at a defined place can save space. Remove extra tables and chairs from the room. You can place such articles in the waiting room, restroom or in a pantry. Try to include optimum sizes chairs and tables in the work area which allows easy placing and utilization of both space and the furniture. The older machines occupy lots of space while renovating check which machines can be replaced with newer versions, it will also increase the work efficiency of the lab.
Ventilation: This is the most important aspect in the lab, the places where the possibility of developing poisonous substances are higher, for health and safety issues of the employees it is very important for the employees to have proper ventilation. The temperature of labs increases which can affect the efficiency of machines. A proper temperature helps in removing the existing air and replacing it with fresh air.
The cooling and heating system should be well maintained. The conditioned airflow should be segregated from the exhaust ducts. The exhaust containing the contaminated air should be released outdoors. This is also a legal mandatory requirement to have a proper exhaust system to prevent health hazards for the employees working in the organization. Changing the current ventilation system will be an expensive process. For employees working with a biodegradable material, there should be a proper disposal system and mechanism to avoid the spread of infection.
The flooring and the working tables should be seamless to avoid any particulate matter deposition and easy cleaning of the surfaces. The surfaces should be able to withstand the disinfectants.
The fume hood is an essential component of the lab and all such activities should be performed under fume-hood. The efficiency of the fume hood should be analyzed. All employees should be encouraged to carry out their work in fume-hood even though the process releases few fumes.
Fire and Safety: This is an important aspect for labs especially which handles explosive items, there should be fire and safety system installed in the lab and should have safe emergency exits. As per law, the fire and safety certificate should be received from the governing body. Large units especially require fire NOC which will be obtained after inspection. The lab should also be provided with eyewash stations to quickly wash away the substances.
Door Widths: The lab door widths should allow an easy flow of small-sized equipment if required. The bulk equipment should be placed near the door to allow easy movement.
The lab design should allow some degree of flexibility after designing as the theoretical layout may need some changes practically. Invest wisely in the designing of the laboratory as the changes in the lab are difficult to adapt frequently considering the halt in the work and the cost involved. Be assured a good interior design does provide returns on investment!