Furnishing and Refurbishing a Laboratory: Keeping Regulations at the Center of Equipment and Furniture Choices

Nov 7, 2023 8:00 PM ET

Does it matter whether you choose new furniture for your laboratory? Or can you buy used equipment for your project? The answer is: If what you buy is reliable, and fit for purpose – it doesn’t matter. A new laboratory cabinet might fit right into your design parameters, as would a good-condition, previously used one. But an extra degree of diligence might be in order to ensure your furniture complies with applicable regulations.

New or Used: Why Regulations Matter

Regulatory requirements are the rules and standards that govern the safety, performance, and environmental impact of lab furniture, such as a lab bench, cabinet, or casework. They vary depending on the type of laboratory, the nature of the work, and the location. Some examples of regulatory bodies that issue these requirements are:

– Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

– Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

– National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

– American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

– International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

The framework does not regulate the use of new or used furniture or equipment. However, when furnishing or refurbishing a lab, embracing the framework is critical on several fronts: 

– They protect the health and safety of the lab workers, visitors, and the public. For instance, they ensure that the lab furniture is sturdy, stable, and resistant to fire, chemicals, and biological hazards.

– They prevent legal liabilities and penalties. If you fail to comply with the regulations, you might face fines, lawsuits, or even criminal charges. You might also lose your accreditation, funding, or reputation.

– They enhance the quality and efficiency of your lab work. By following the regulations, you can ensure that your lab furniture is suitable, reliable, and compatible with your equipment and procedures.

Real-world Regulatory Compliance 

So, how do regulations translate to real-world application? Well, one example of regulatory requirement for lab cabinets is the NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code. This code specifies how to store and handle flammable and combustible liquids in laboratories. According to this code, you need to use approved flammable storage cabinets if you store more than 10 gallons of flammable liquids in your lab. These cabinets must have:

– A double-walled construction with a 1.5-inch air space between the walls

– A self-closing and self-latching door with a three-point latch

– A continuous piano hinge on the door

– A 2-inch raised sill on the bottom

– A 2-inch vent opening on each side

– A red color with a conspicuous label that reads “Flammable – Keep Fire Away”

By using these cabinets, you can reduce the risk of fire and explosion in your lab.

Right-Sourcing Your Lab Furniture

If you are planning to buy a new or used laboratory cabinet or lab benches, and cabinets for your laboratory, you might be tempted to focus only on the price, quality, and design of the products. However, there is another important factor that you should not overlook: the regulatory requirements. 

Before you buy, it is essential to keep in mind the regulations that apply to your lab furniture, and to ensure that you comply with them. At LEI Sales, we have a huge supply of both new and used furniture and equipment that’ll fit right into your design and budget parameters.

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