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Laboratory Safety Manual

Reviewed May 2012

Chapter 7: Administrative Concerns
Section 7.3 - Facility Design


C. Floors, Stairways, and Aisles

The following specifics are recommended for ensuring a floor plan that is efficient, convenient and safe:

  1. Should be durable and maintenance free as possible.

  2. Finishes shall be anti-slip.

  3. Carpeting is not recommended for lab areas.

  4. Stairs and passageways shall be sufficiently illuminated.

  5. All open sides of stairwells shall have railings, as a minimum. Stairs less than 44 inches wide shall have railings on at least one side, with wider stairs having railings on both sides. Stairs over 88 inches wide shall have a center railing as well.

  6. Passageways/aisles shall be a minimum of six feet wide.

  7. File drawers or other storage doors shall not open into narrow aisles.

  8. Doors should not open directly into passageways.

D. Egress

The following procedures are required either by OSHA, NFPA 101, BOCA, and/or other building codes:

  1. Both regular exits and emergency exits shall be clearly marked.

  2. Locations of emergency exits should be identified in each work area, such as in a posted floor plan.

  3. Fire doors shall be unobstructed, and swing in the direction of the escape.

  4. Non-exit doors and storage rooms shall be marked as such to avoid confusion with exits in the event of an emergency.

  5. If possible, there should be two exits for each laboratory area.

E. Electrical

The typical laboratory requires a large quantity of electrical power. Consequently, the likelihood of electrically related problems and hazards is increased. One must address both the electrical shock hazard to the facility occupants and the fire hazard potential. The following requirements are basic to a sound electrical safety program in the laboratory.

  1. Electrical standards shall be as set forth in NFPA 70 - NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE.

  2. All electrical equipment shall be U.L. listed or F.M. approved.


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