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Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Guidelines for Laboratory Design: Health and Safety Considerations

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The design and construction of a laboratory, regardless of its use, involves many stakeholders. While providing a safe environment for laboratory users to perform their work is imperative, competing stakeholders’ needs often cause health and safety considerations to be overlooked.

Participating in Guidelines for Laboratory Design: Health and Safety Considerations will help you address this issue by providing you with an understanding of how lab design options impact the health and safety of laboratory users and the environment. With this knowledge, you will be able to incorporate the needs of all stakeholders and ensure your labs are safe, free of health hazards, and promote a healthier environment.

Participants in this program will explore and address health and safety considerations for diverse laboratory types and gain the skills they need to create a safe laboratory environment. This program covers general laboratory design challenges, as well as issues specific to chemistry, microelectronics clean room, engineering, animal, biosafety, clinical, and sustainable laboratories. Participants also address issues with new laboratory construction, renovation, and decommissioning.

This course provides a unique opportunity for architects, engineers, laboratory users, lab managers, and EHS professionals to collaborate on laboratory design.

Guided Laboratory Tours

This program features guided tours of chemistry, cleanroom, clinical, biosafety, and animal research laboratories at leading academic and medical institutions in the Boston area. These tours help reinforce concepts taught during the course and ensure you leave able to apply what you learned to your organization’s facilities and projects.

Previous guided tours have included:

  • Open labs at the MIT Koch Institute
  • Animal labs at the MIT Koch Institute
  • Clean rooms at Harvard University
  • Chemistry research laboratory renovations at Harvard University
  • Clinical laboratories at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The Importance of Health and Safety in Lab Design

For most architects, engineers, and constructors, building codes are the only significant guide on matters of health and safety. Few have any background for intentionally designing for health and safety in laboratories and other technical facilities.

When practitioners move beyond basic building codes to frameworks such as Sustainable Design, health and safety may be compromised further as another design consideration takes priority. By designing to code and not directly addressing the specific health and safety issues present in laboratories, architects, engineers, and constructors open themselves to potential professional, reputation, and legal liabilities.

This program will provide you with the requisite knowledge to thoroughly and proactively design for health and safety.

Objectives & Highlights

Architects will be able to:

  • Evaluate laboratory design options related to health and safety considerations in a cost-effective way
  • Apply appropriate design information for laboratory types used in industry, academia, and hospitals
  • Demonstrate familiarity with mechanical systems vital to state-of-the-art laboratory functions
  • Understand the primary principles of safety, health, and environmental responsibilities and impact of these considerations on planning and sustainable design of laboratory facilities
  • Learn details of laboratory systems and planning strategies to reduce risks to occupants of laboratory facilities
  • Learn to plan laboratories to provide best location of chemical fume hoods to perform safely
  • Decommission, decontaminate, renovate, and reconstruct old laboratories and laboratories

Design and facility engineers will be able to:

  • Apply laboratory design information regarding heat loads from research equipment, ventilation requirements, optimum air flows, and contamination control through air pressure regulation
  • Identify recent developments in the design of HVAC systems for laboratories, including variable air volume (VAV) systems, high performance hoods, air exchange rates, ductless hoods, recirculation of air, and the application of energy conservation measures
  • Learn to use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis to improve performance of chemical fume hoods
  • Incorporate into practice important information about the design of hazardous waste-handling facilities, safety shower and eyewash stations, and research support facilities

Occupational health and safety professionals will be able to:

  • Complete structures that are safe and free of health hazards by consulting with architects, contractors, owners, and users during design and construction
  • Identify design features that provide solutions for the unique health and safety hazards associated with laboratories used for different functions
  • Become familiar with CFD and how it is used in laboratory design
  • Provide detailed specifications regarding laboratory support facilities for hazardous waste storage, packaging, and shipping
  • Identify the unique needs of specific types of laboratories such as biosafety, chemistry, microelectronics, animal facilities, and engineering
  • Understand the perspectives and constraints of architects and engineers, and the need to communicate with them from the earliest stages of the project through completion

Learn practical and cost-effective solutions to renovation and reconstruction issues including:

  • Green design and construction
  • Decontamination of an existing facility
  • Special health and safety precautions in partially occupied buildings undergoing renovation
  • Adding energy conservation features
  • Case studies of successful reconstructions and details of decisions not to reconstruct will also be presented
  • Laboratory ventilation including fume hoods and other exhaust requirements
  • Safety design features including fire protection, electrical systems, emergency equipment and controls, and chemical storage

Who should attend

This program is designed for any professional involved in designing, constructing, renovating, or managing laboratories, including:

  • Architects and designers
  • Construction managers
  • Environment, health, and safety professionals
  • Facilities managers
  • Laboratory managers
  • Laboratory planners
  • Project managers
  • Scientists, researchers, and other laboratory users

Ideal participants will come from organizations including:

  • Architecture firms
  • Engineering and construction companies
  • Government agencies
  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies
  • Other commercial and noncommercial research organizations


Biography Chief Executive Officer, Diversity Advantage International Director/Coach/Facilitator A seasoned communications strategist and facilitator, credentialed executive and leadership coach, and diversity and inclusion specialist, Jennifer works with executives, senior teams and business u...
Mr. DiBerardinis received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University and a Master of Science Degree in Industrial Hygiene from Harvard University. He received his Certification in Industrial Hygiene and Certification as a Safety Professional. Mr. DiBerard...
Jack Dennerlein, PhD is an Adjunct Professor of Ergonomics and Safety in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Dennerlein is also a Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Movement, and Rehabilitation Sciences at Bouvè College of Health ...
Ms. Baum is retired from the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design as Senior Lecturer, Washington University in St. Louis, and from her responsibilities as founding Principal of the laboratory planning and design firm, Health, Education + Research Associates, Inc. She provided laborato...
Quentin Gilly is the senior coordinator with the Harvard Office for Sustainability. Along with Anthony Michetti, he manages the Green Labs Program at the Faculty of Arts & Sciences where he focuses on new and innovative ways to improve lab energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions...
Walt Henry is currently a consultant to owners, utilities and universities providing expertise in energy use and building design. He has served as Director of Engineering for one of New England’s largest private universities as well as Director of Engineering for a firm specializing in energy stu...
Michael is Assistant to the Director in the MIT EHS Office where he currently manages various projects including laboratory hazard assessment. He was previously the Owner and Principal at CIH Consulting, LLC where he provided consulting services to academic and research institutions. From 2000-20...
Farhad Memarzadeh is the Director, Division of Technical Resources (DTR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the United States medical research agency—making important discoveries that ...
Anthony is a Senior Sustainability Coordinator at Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability where he develops and implements programs in support of the University's Climate Action Plan and holistic Sustainability Plan. He works at Harvard's largest school, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (F...
Anand K. Seth is an engineering professional with more than 30 years of experience in designing, operating or optimizing building systems. He recently joined Cannon Design, an international architectural/engineering firm with branch offices around the country. Mr. Seth is engineering principal on...
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