Things to Consider When Purchasing Lab Furniture and Equipment

There are several different things you need to consider when you are purchasing lab furniture and equipment for a new or existing lab. Unlike traditional office-type furniture and equipment, which is not resistant to chemicals, spills, and other materials you use in a lab environment, the furniture and equipment you select will need to be durable and meet the demands of your type of work.

Aside from the various demands the equipment and furniture will have to withstand, the next things to consider are both your current and future needs. Just because you are doing one type of work today, this does not mean your lab’s objectives and work will not change in the future. Take a moment to brainstorm with your staff to consider the potential future needs so you select the most appropriate pieces.

Now that you have a general idea of your current and future equipment and furniture needs, you are ready for the next step: deciding how the furniture and equipment are going to fit into the space you have available. It would be unfortunate to order and install a huge lab workbench and not have room for other vital equipment and furniture.

The best way to ensure all of the new equipment and furniture will fit correctly is take measurements. A good rule of thumb is to measure everything twice and have someone also take the measurements twice to guarantee they are correct. Even being off an inch or two could affect the whole layout of the lab and how pieces are going to fit.

Laboratory Cabinets

Secondary Considerations

In addition to the above, there are several other specific and secondary considerations you should take into account, as follows:

•    Aesthetics – The general appearance of the lab is sometimes important in certain environments, so you will want the pieces to complement each other and not look out of place.
•    Warranty – Ask the manufacturer or supplier to provide you with a copy of the warranty terms and conditions ahead of time so you can understand what is covered, what will void the warranty, and other such details.
•    Ergonomics – You need to verify the equipment and furniture provide good ergonomics for your employees. You do not want them hunched over a table or not be able to sit or stand correctly, as this can lead to accidents and injuries.
•    Unique Uses – Are there any special functions the equipment or furniture will need to provide which could be of benefit to your lab? For instance, pullout drawers or shelves underneath a lab table could be beneficial and provide extra storage areas and work surface extensions.
•    Price – Price should never be your first consideration. If you are only replacing a few pieces, then the price is not always a big concern. On the other hand, for entire lab setups, then prices should be considered, using various analysis tools like the return on investment, the total cost of ownership, and the total benefits of ownership.

For assistance in selecting the right furniture and equipment for your lab, lab planning, and installation, please feel free to call Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816 today!

Airflow Requirements for Laboratories

Part of lab planning and design is including the proper equipment, hoods, tables, benches, cabinets, and other such items that will be needed to perform the desired work. Whether you are part of the design team or leading the project, one rather important aspect you need to remember is the lab will have to meet various state and federal regulations and requirements.

It is important to find out what these are for your type of lab environment to ensure it is designed correctly with sufficient ventilation and plenty of vent/exhaust hoods. Unfortunately, each regulatory agency has their own recommendations, requirements, or regulations depending on the specifics of the environment. In regards to air changes per hour (ACH), which is the number of times per hour the air in the entire lab is replaced with fresh air, they vary from one agency to the next.

American National Standards Institute/American Industrial Hygiene Association (ANSI/AIHA)

This agency does not have a specific requirement for airflows, but rather a generalized recommendation, which is between 4 ACH and 10 ACH, based upon the needs of the lab environment. ANSI/AIHA does not provide any strict requirements for airflow because the standards and conditions of each lab can and does vary, so each lab must determine the appropriate design for proper ventilation.

U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

The only standard requirement this agency prescribes is in cases where chemicals are present. The standard simply states exhaust, fume, and vent hoods will be run continuously while chemicals are present.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA also has a broad recommendation for airflow rates that range from 4 ACH to 12 ACH and only provides a generalized recommendation on adequate airflow rates. Their recommendation does mention that ventilation should not be solely relied upon for protection when working with toxic substances being released into the lab’s air.

Safety and Health Administration

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

This agency is the one most people refer to when establishing standards for proper ventilation and indoor air quality. When it comes to labs, there is some ambiguity about the recommended ACH. For instance, the recommendation refers to “educational science labs” but not laboratory work environments.

Previously, there were two different listings, one for science labs and another for educational facilities. Currently, the recommend ACH for educational science labs is 1.2 ACH. In the previous versions, from 2006 and earlier, the recommend airflow rate for science labs was 6 ACH.

AHRAE also publishes specific books that are used by the HVAC industry. Within these are specific chapters that contain minimum recommend airflow rates for laboratory environments. For environments where animals are not present, the current minimum is 8 ACH, with a maximum of 12 ACH. In cases where animals are present in the lab, a minimum of 10 ACH and a maximum of 15 ACH is recommended.

As you can see, each agency has different recommendations without any currently mandatory regulations. It is your responsibility to determine the most appropriate ACH for your lab to help keep your employees safe. For assistance with planning, design, and lab furniture, hoods, and accessories, please feel free to contact Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816 today!

Laboratory Chemical Fume Hood Safety: Good Housekeeping Tips

Chemical fume hood workstations are designed to help vent airborne particles out of the laboratory and through ductwork and exhaust vents. The overall effectiveness and venting capabilities of the hood are affected by various workplace and general housekeeping practices.

Before starting tests, experiments, or other such work that requires the use of chemical fume hoods, take the time to verify the following good work practices are put into place and are used at all times.

1.    Organize the workspace and bench top. Larger equipment should be placed in the back, with progressively smaller items placed in front of one another, for easier access.

2.    Keep all glass items and containers full of chemicals away from the front of the workstation. Store these items toward the back or in a cabinet or drawer underneath the bench.

3.    Leave plenty of space to perform work processes safely. If you are having to reach over items or find the space too cramped, then your workstation is not set up correctly.

4.    Never reuse disposable items. Most disposable products are designed for single-use applications and should be discarded immediately afterward.

5.    Discard disposable items in the correct disposal containers. Your lab should have multiple waste containers for various items, and each should be labeled for what items/materials can be placed inside.

6.    Inspect glass items for any chips, cracks, or damage prior to using. Discard damaged items promptly.

7.    Verify all containers are properly labeled. If you find any containers without labels, remove them from the workbench. Your lab could set up a specific area to place unknown containers filled with chemicals and other materials.

8.    Make sure access to showers, eyewash stations, fire extinguishers, and other emergency equipment is easily accessible. If there is equipment or other clutter in the way of these items, clean up the area.

9.    Test the fume hood to verify it is working correctly. Turn on the hood and make sure airflow is flowing correctly using various testing methods.

10.    Confirm the average face velocity on the hood is sufficient for the chemicals/materials you will be working with. There should be a certification sticker somewhere on the side or above the hood sash with this information. For general purposes, fume hoods are normally set to a velocity of 115 fpm (feet per minutes).

11.    Raise bulky equipment an inch or two of the workbench surface. This allows air to flow underneath items, such as hot plates, and helps increase the effectiveness of the fume hood.

12.    Verify all panels, baffles, and sashes are in their proper places before starting work. If any of these items are missing or not working correctly, do not use the hood.

13.    Once you start working, make sure to clean up spills, powders, and other materials promptly to avoid chemical reactions.


Laboratory Chemical Fume Hood Safety

By following these good housekeeping tips, not only do you keep your workspace clean and organized, but you also lower the risks of causing accidents. For all of your fume and exhaust hoods and laboratory furniture needs, contact Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816 today.

This Earth Day There Will Be a Science March on Washington

With the recent shifting winds in politics, the notion of activism has begun to spread into more generalized territory; the Women’s March, a Day Without Immigrants, a Day Without a Woman, and other widespread events have already played their parts. On April 22nd, 2017—Earth Day—scientists and science supporters from all regions of the political spectrum will raise their own voices in a march on Washington.

A Nonpartisan Event Born Online and Spread Through Social Media

The initial idea of holding a science-based march on the nation’s capital was first floated on discussion site Reddit. The idea gathered momentum quickly, eventually leading to the creation of an official website, Facebook group, and Twitter account. From there, support for the march has continued to grow into a proper, organized event.

The march is intended to be a completely nonpartisan event, with scientists, educators, parents, and other science-supporting Americans hailing from all sides of politics. Though there are certainly some aspects of science that have been embraced by certain groups and parties more than others, the march and its tenets are not aimed at any particular political leaning. Science, of course, belongs to everyone (and, by the same token, can face attacks from anyone).

Why a Science March?

Recent concerns about the fate of the EPA, the nation’s energy policies, plans to address climate change, etc. have culminated in a very real desire for science to play a larger role in informing U.S. policy. “Publicly funded and publicly communicated science,” the group’s website holds, is a “pillar of human freedom and democracy.”

Perhaps the simplest, most all-encompassing concern of the science march is that of creating an understanding of empirical evidence, statistical significance, reproducibility, peer review, the scientific method, and other basic concepts that make proper research reliable and repeatable.

Detractors of the march have argued that the event is an overreach, as science is apolitical. However, it is because science is inherently apolitical that others support the march; by supporting the basis of empirical evidence-based policy, say supporters, the U.S. can avoid the manipulation of science concepts for the benefit of a particular political bent.

The planned science march is expected to make an impact on both the science community and the global community at large, in that it’s one of few public outcries the U.S. science community has made in modern history. The mere organization of this event has signified to the world that Americans are not deaf to science, and that thousands of science professionals and private citizens feel strongly about its value as a public good.

Genie Scientific Strives to Meet Your Research Needs

In the search for empirical scientific evidence, it’s of the utmost importance that your research laboratory is properly outfitted for efficient, reliable function. Genie Scientific provides industry and academic customers with top quality fume hoods, laboratory benches, cabinetry, powder-coated steel furniture, and more. Plus, our professional lab planning specialists work one-on-one with client teams to make sure that the final design passes all regulations and meets the needs of laboratory staff.

To learn more about Genie Scientific’s custom laboratory equipment and/or lab planning services, contact us today at (800) 545-8816.

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