Laboratory cabinets play a central role in maintaining a safe and efficient working environment in laboratories. Well designed cabinets are meant to store, organize, and protect various laboratory documents, equipment, chemicals, and samples. Understanding the general characteristics of laboratory cabinets, and the regulatory frameworks around them, is essential for ensuring optimal functionality, safety, and compliance with industry standards. That understanding will help you choose the right lab cabinets for your needs.
Safety Above All
Various regulatory bodies establish standards for laboratory cabinets and other lab storage procedures in general. Compliance guarantees the proper storage and handling of hazardous substances, mitigate the risk of accidents and contamination, and promote a safe and controlled laboratory environment. It is important that all lab storage equipment, especially cabinets and casework, meets federal compliance standards.
Two of the notable federal compliance standards that laboratory storage equipment must adhere to include:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standards:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), under the United States Department of Labor, lays down regulations to protect workers from workplace hazards. OSHA standards, relevant to laboratory cabinets and storage equipment, include those related to flammable materials, hazardous chemicals, and biological agents.
When storing materials and samples in a laboratory cabinet, staff must also comply with OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), which mandates proper labeling, handling, and storage of hazardous chemicals. In general, storage equipment must also meet specific requirements, such as segregation of incompatible chemicals, secure storage of flammable substances, and protection against spills or leaks.
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards:
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) develops and issues fire safety standards adopted by other regulatory authorities. NFPA standards pertaining to laboratory storage equipment, such as cabinets, refrigerators and freezers, focus on fire prevention, detection, and control.
One example of such standards is NFPA 45, which provides guidelines for fire protection in laboratories, including storage of flammable and combustible materials. It defines requirements for emergency equipment, flammable storage cabinets, ventilation, and fire suppression systems. Compliance with NFPA standards ensures that laboratory storage equipment is designed and installed to reduce or eliminate fire hazards and protect laboratory staff.
Aim for Engineering Excellence
Of course, the design and construction of all storage equipment, whether they are used laboratory cabinets, purpose-built cabinetry, or purchased off-the-shelf from a manufacturer, comply with relevant engineering and safety standards too. For instance, NFPA 30 – Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code, governs the storage, handling, and use of flammable and combustible liquids. Laboratories often store these hazardous substances, making compliance with NFPA 30 essential. While some cabinets might not require strict adherence to NFPA 30, cabinets designed for flammable liquids must meet specific requirements outlined in this code, including construction materials, ventilation, grounding, and capacity limits.
Other standards, such as ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, include standards relevant to laboratory storage equipment that address material specifications, design considerations, and performance testing. These standards ensure the quality and durability of storage cabinets, including factors such as load capacity, corrosion resistance, structural stability, and ergonomic design.
At LEI Sales, you’ll find a range of laboratory cabinets in our inventory. Consult our online catalogue to find the ones that best fit your needs.