Talk zeroes in on lab design and safety

As published in Borneo Bulletin on 10th September 2013;

9th September 2013 - As part of continuous professional development efforts, the Association of Surveyors, Engineers and Architects (PUJA) through its Architect Division (AD) organised a one-day talk on laboratory design for health and safety programme.

The construction of new laboratory buildings and renovation of old ones require close communication between all parties involved.

With a multitude of needs to be addressed, all 'too often safety and health conditions and the environmental impact are overlooked or slighted and laboratories might be built with unanticipated safety and health hazards or adverse effects to the environment.

This programme provides real world insight into laboratory health and safety issues, ensuring that participants can effectively design and construct a safe and sustainable laboratory.

Present as chief guest at the talk was PUJA President YB Hj Zulkipli bin Hj Abd Hamid.

Speaking to the Bulletin, Fazlan Hj Othman, Vice President of PUJA and Chairperson of PUJA AD, noted that some of the laboratories, when completed, tend to have problems in terms of functions.

"Labs are unique in terms of actual usage like a lab, to test the 'Halalness' of a food product or to test hazardous substance, or a lab to test contagious disease. We need to contain where it is critical, for it would be a disaster if it leaks out.

"Designing a lab is no easy matter, unlike building a house. It is an expensive exercise as we need to engage a lab specialist in order to do it correctly," he explained.

Architects, design and facility engineers, health and safety professionals and laboratory users will work together to ensure a better understanding of the needs of all team members as well as the goals and demands of the project itself.

Through this multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach, participants will be able to ensure that the completed laboratory will be safe, free of hazards, ergonomically sound and environmentally safe.

Meanwhile, Speaker Mohd Rafie Salehudin of Chem Resist Sdn Bhd said that designing a lab starts with understanding what a customer needs, rather than he wants.

As a lab consultant, we must be able to decide if the space and the intended facilities are suitable for lab set-up and it is the consultant's responsibility to advice their client accordingly, he told.

Before starting on the blueprint, the consultant must be able to appreciate the intended site and space, understand and comprehend all constraints and propose a system that is workable, operational and within budget.

Space planning must be according to international guidelines, compliant and conforming to Good Lab Practice, and adhering to all safety aspects in operating the labs.

The lab consultant need to be aware of the local government safety codes for fire safety, pollution to the environment and other factors that will affect the lives of people working in the lab, and also people living around the vicinity of the lab.

This is a joint collaboration between Chem Resist Sdn Bhd and Arza Trading Sdn Bhd.

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