Worldwide, millions of people are employed in laboratory settings. For example in the United States, according to OSHA, there are more than 500,000 lab employees. Lab environments present a variety of hazards. Laboratory safety equipment is fundamental in providing safe conditions for laboratorians and other staff.
This category of equipment covers a very wide range of systems including machines, instruments, materials as well as devices for personal safety. These may be implemented to protect an entire facility, an area where hazardous materials are handled as well as personnel.
The most critical type of laboratory safety equipment relates to the handling of dangerous pathogens or chemicals (and in some cases CBRNe materials). For example, the fume hood is a common feature in labs universally used for the safe handling of chemical fumes. Class II Biological Safety Cabinets are installed for working with low to moderate risk pathogens and Class III BSC’s are used for higher risk materials.
The type of laboratory facility also determines the proper installation of the safety systems. For example, BSL-3 Facilities are characterized by both their secondary containment (HVAC systems and controls) as well as the primary containment equipment and components installed in the lab. In addition to standard containment systems, these operations also include many devices to process hazardous materials. These include autoclaves, effluent and gas decontamination units, dunk tanks and airlocks.