- Category: Biocontainment Facilities
- Published: 18 December 2015
The IFBA’s Biocontainment Engineering Working Group (BEWG) was created in 2010 and serves as a “think-tank” to identify practical and sustainable solutions for biocontainment laboratories around the world. In particular, laboratories in low resource countries often struggle to implement containment solutions which have been designed for use in other parts of the world where different working conditions prevail. Compounding the problem is a lack of well-trained biocontainment engineers worldwide that can adequately maintain and operate laboratories and critical containment equipment (e.g. biological safety cabinets) over the longer term. Effective supplier networks, maintenance provision and other basic measures are often unavailable to those most in need. To meet these challenges, the IFBA’s BEWG was established to identify risk-based approaches to laboratory and equipment design that are cost-effective, locally driven, and can be practically implemented over the long term. The vision for risk-based approaches is not to lay out the requirements for a BSL2 or BSL3 laboratory as is done in existing guidelines, but rather to describe “how” these facilities should be planned and designed based on a local biocontainment risk assessment. The resulting facilities would be built-to-purpose, utilizing a more nuanced set of requirements, and would allow for investment in infrastructure, equipment and precautions suited to the type of procedures actually performed.
In the future, scientists, engineers, architects, and regulators must work together more closely to accurately assess their needs and options in order to create more sustainable, less energy-intensive labs that provide the desired containment result. Rather than simply taking a high technology approach of focusing on engineering and equipment, approaches to containment facilities must balance engineering controls with operational, scientific and management controls. Scientific controls include risk assessments of the work to be undertaken, proper SOPs, and the employment of well-trained scientists and technicians. Management controls include policies, administrative support, and funding availability. The best solutions also typically understand and account for cost pressures, the lack of local technical equipment and replacement parts, unreliable utilities, and local inexperience in constructing and operating complex BSL-3 facilities.
Read more about the IFBA’s risk-based approach to biocontainment facilities here
Under the umbrella of the BEWG, the IFBA has partnered with Germfree and NuAire towards the development of risk-based laboratory facilities and equipment that are engineered to be energy efficient, durable, cost-effective and locally maintained.
Read more about our partnership with Germfree here
Read more about our partnership with NuAire here