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United Excel Attends Courses Focused on Biosafety

At United Excel, our team is continually learning more about the construction industry so that we can better serve our customers. United Excel Project Executive Krista Scott recently attended training courses through the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA), offered as part of ABSA’s 60th Annual Biological Safety Conference pre-conference activities.

The courses were intended to equip attendees with best practices on the process for planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of a high-containment laboratory. The training included an in-depth examination of key principles and practices for designing safe and efficient laboratories. Participants engaged in guided discussions and analyzed laboratory plans with respect to the design principles and practices under consideration.

In relation to engineering, the event provided training to determine air change rates, define HVAC containment boundaries, interpret design drawings and understand HEPA filtration. It also provided an introduction to determining room heat loads and ventilation rates, directional airflow concepts and room pressure differentials, as well as HVAC components (e.g., isolation valves, control valves, fast acting actuators) for BL-3 laboratories.

The course covered safety issues encountered not just in the U.S., but throughout the world. For example, a lab constructed in a third-world country most likely does not have a reliable power grid that can sustain continuous operations to the mechanical systems needed to support a operational lab.

Attendees comprised facility management professionals in charge of new construction or renovations of a BL-3 or similar laboratory, facility safety officers and members of the scientific community who work within the laboratories, and construction and engineering professionals. As an international conference, the training garnered attendance from all over the world, including, but not limited to, the U.S., Mexico, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia. Instructors included biosafety professionals, members of technical staff for a national laboratory and engineers who have constructed BL-3 or above labs worldwide.

“One of the biggest takeaways is that regardless of where in the world a BL-3 lab is constructed, they all need to have a high level of safety measures in place to protect the scientists who work within the lab, said Krista. “The design and construction of a lab plays such a major role in safety. Special consideration to air changes, pressurization, ante rooms and how emergencies would be handled if there are catastrophic events such as power loss are all factors that should be considered during design and construction.”

United Excel is currently working on multiple task orders within the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. The 520,000 sf lab facility contains BL-2 labs and BL-3 labs, requiring special attention to maintaining the proper pressurization and temperature levels. The valuable knowledge obtained regarding work in the active laboratories at Walter Reed and other military facilities makes United Excel well qualified to construct a variety of laboratory construction and renovation projects.

ABSA was founded in 1984 to promote biosafety as a scientific discipline and serve the growing needs of biosafety professionals throughout the world. Its goals are to provide a professional association that represents the interests and needs of practitioners of biological safety, and to provide a forum for the continued and timely exchange of biosafety information.