There are three Containment Level 3 (CL3) laboratories in the Blizard Institute. Two are located on the lower ground floor of the Blizard Building and the other is on the second floor of the Abernethy Building. Access to these laboratories is restricted to those staff who have been appropriately trained and given authorisation to work in these areas by those responsible. Work with some pathogens also requires personnel to be examined initially by occupational health in order to declared 'Fit to Work'.

CL3 laboratories in the Blizard Building

These laboratories are in the north-west corner of the lower ground floor. The larger of the two suites is currently used for research into HIV and is equipped with five Microbiological Safety Cabinets (MSCs) while the smaller suite, containing three MSCs is used for research into tuberculosis.

Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)

These laboratories are equipped with a UPS battery back-up system which will allow vital equipment, including the MSCs, to continue to operate for several hours in the event of a severe power failure to the building. This is an important safety precaution which would enable adequate time for users to stop their work and ensure that the laboratory is made safe before leaving. The UPS system is continually monitored and the condition of the batteries may be observed on a PC screen located on the wall of the corridor leading to the CL3 labs.

Access control

Access to these laboratories is strictly controlled and only given to those who have been adequately trained and authorised by a senior member of the relevant research group. Both laboratories are accessed via a shared lobby which leads to the anterooms for the two laboratories. There is a second lobby and anteroom leading to the HIV laboratory but this is not used. A proximity card is required for access to lobby, anteroom and main laboratory doors. The doors are controlled by an interlock system which prevents more than one door being opened before another has closed. This is a feature intended to preserve the negative pressure in these laboratories.

N.B. in the event of the fire alarm being activated the interlock system is automatically switched off to allow a more efficient exit from these laboratories.

Control panels

There are control panels for both the HIV and TB suites in the shared lobby and a second control panel for the HIV suite in the single lobby. These panels indicate whether the extract fans connected to the MSCs are operational and a gauge provides a reading for the air pressure between the main laboratory and the external corridor.

Airflows

It is essential that the CL3 laboratories are maintained under negative pressure to the rest of the laboratory areas at all times. The negative airflow is created by a 'thimble' system. Cooled supply air is generated into the shared and single lobbies and this air is drawn through the door vents into the main laboratories via the anterooms by the extract fans connected to the MSCs. In the event of supply air failure, air is drawn from the outer corridor through vents located in the walls of the lobbies. In the event of either of the main extract fans failing both will automatically shut down in order to prevent any risk of positive pressurisation or air being transferred between the two laboratories. The failure of the air extract system will be clearly indicated by an alarm and flashing orange light in each of the laboratories.

When either the supply or extract fans fail work in the laboratories is stopped and not reinstated until assurances have been given by the relevant Estates Department staff that the problem has been resolved.

Integrity tests and fumigation

CL3 laboratories must be completely sealed to enable them to be fumigated with formaldehyde in the event of a spillage of infectious material. The Institute is registered with BioSafe, a company that specialises in integrity testing of laboratories and fumigation procedures. BioSafe inspect the integrity of Institute's CL3 laboratories annually to ensure that they are sealed for fumigation and will come and fumigate the laboratories in the event of an incident.

Waste

All waste produced in these laboratories must be inactivated by disinfection, steam sterilization or both before being removed. Infectious waste that has been autoclaved is then transferred to double yellow clinical waste bags in the lobby area, sealed with the appropriate plastic tie then placed in one of the yellow bins in the corridor for collection. Chemical and other waste is dealt with by request to the Laboratory Management. It is essential that the printouts for each autoclave cycle are kept in chronological order should they be required for inspection, either internally or by the HSE.

Checks

Laboratory Management carry out weekly checks on all of the CL3 laboratories in order to ensure that they are functioning correctly, noting any faults that require action. This includes inspections of the control panels, lamp tests, airflows, autoclaves, MSCs and oxygen-depletion monitors where installed.

Vapour-phase nitrogen storage unit

The HIV laboratory has a Statebourne vapour-phase nitrogen Biosystem for the storage of samples. This is filled automatically from a storage vessel (Cryostor) located in the single lobby. The Cryostor is filled by BOC staff every week. Oxygen-depletion monitors are fitted in the laboratory and the lobby as a safety measure.

Servicing

The MSCs and autoclaves are serviced every six months to ensure that they are functioning correctly and are compliant with the relevant regulations. MSCs are checked to ensure that the airflows are correct and the pre-filters and HEPA filters are changed as required.

Each of the laboratories has a built-in double end (pass through) autoclave. These are serviced every six months, calibrated every twelve months and re-validated every two years (more frequently if there is any change of use). In order to comply with the 'pressurised steam vessels' legislation the autoclaves are also examined annually by an insurance inspector.

Permit to work

Contractors who come to service or repair equipment in the CL3 laboratories must be provided with a Permit to Work form, which must be signed by a senior member of the CL3 staff or a Laboratory Manager before work commences. Laboratory management maintain a database for these permits. It is essential that contractors are made fully aware of the hazards in the area where they are working and should ideally be supervised at all times. They must be informed on the procedure in the event of the fire alarm sounding.

Fire safety procedure

In the event of the fire alarm sounding all personnel working in the CL3 laboratories must make what they are doing safe then make their way out of the building and to the assembly point. The CL3 door integration system is switched off in the event of the alarm sounding to allow a more efficient escape. The nearest escape route form the building is along the west corridor to the lift lobby, taking the stairs up to the delivery yard, then around the outside of the building to the assembly point outside Floyer House via Newark Street.

CL3 laboratory in the Abernethy Building

This laboratory is located on the second floor of the Abernethy Building and is currently used for research into HIV and Hepatitis B and C. There is also a CL2 laboratory which may be accessed via a shared lobby. This laboratory is designed to be upgraded to CL3 should the need arise.

Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)

This laboratory is also equipped with a UPS battery back-up system which will allow vital equipment, including the MSCs, to continue to operate for several hours in the event of a severe power failure to the building. However, there is no visual monitor for users in this area.

Access control

Access to this CL3 laboratory is strictly controlled and only given to those who have been adequately trained and authorised by a senior member of the relevant research group. Both CL3 and CL2 laboratories are accessed via a shared lobby which leads directly to the CL2 lab and via an anteroom to the Cl3 laboratory to the anterooms for the two laboratories. A proximity card is required for access to lobby, anteroom and main laboratory doors. A PIN is also required by users to access the main door from the corridor into the lobby. The PIN is a 4-digit number which is allocated to each card. The doors in this laboratory are not controlled by an interlock system as they are in the Blizard Building. In order to prevent more than one door being opened before another has closed a 'traffic light' system must be observed by users. After one of the doors has been opened, the light on the indicator panels on each of the doors changes to red. The user must wait until the light on the door that they wish to open has changed to green before proceeding.

Control panel

The control panel for this suite is more complex than those for the Blizard CL3 laboratories as it indicates air pressures for the shared lobby, the anteroom, CL2 laboratory as well as the main CL3 laboratory. There is also an indicator showing the condition of the extract HEPA filter located above the autoclave in the CL3 laboratory.

Airflows

The airflows in this suite of laboratories is similar to that in the Blizard with the supply air in the lobby being drawn through the grilles in the doors into the laboratories via the extract fans connected to the MSCs. However, the CL2 and CL3 laboratories, and the anteroom all have HEPA extracts as well. These extract fans step up and down via variable speed controllers in order to maintain the room pressures as the MSCs are switched on or off. In practice the MSCs tend to maintain an equilibrium on their own, as when a cabinet is switched off so that there is no airflow across the working aperture, air is then automatically drawn through the upper HEPA. It should be borne in mind that the control of the airflows in this suite is very sensitive and users should ensure that they pay careful attention to the 'traffic lights' and avoid blocking the door grilles with gowns as a sudden change in air pressures will cause the whole airflow system to shut down.

Integrity tests and fumigation

This CL3 laboratory is also registered with BioSafe and inspections are carried out annually to ensure that it is sealed for fumigation.

Autoclave

The Astell pass through autoclave in this facility works on a similar principle to those in the Blizard Building. However, it is larger and has its own steam generator. All printouts for autoclave cycles must be stored and available for inspection.

Waste

All waste must be inactivated by disinfection, steam sterilization or both before being removed from the CL3 suite. Infectious waste that has been autoclaved is then transferred to double yellow clinical waste bags in the lobby area, sealed with the appropriate plastic tie then placed in one of the yellow bins in the teaching laboratory autoclave room opposite. The Laboratory Management should be contacted for advice regarding the disposal of chemicals and other items.

Checks

The Laboratory Management check the CL3 labs on a weekly basis as described above in order to ensure that they are functioning correctly. Any faults that require action will be dealt with as quickly as possible and the users will be informed where necessary.

Vapour-phase nitrogen storage unit

This laboratory also has a Statebourne Biosystem for the storage of samples. This is filled automatically from a storage vessel (Cryostor) located in a cupboard off the external corridor. The Cryostor is filled by BOC staff every week. Oxygen-depletion monitors are fitted in the laboratory and in the storage cupboard (an indicator panel is located outside) as a safety measure.

Servicing

The MSCs in this laboratory are serviced every six months to ensure that they are functioning correctly and are compliant with the relevant regulations.

The extract filter in the CL3 laboratory is also tested every six months to ensure that it is functioning correctly and is compliant.

The autoclave in this suite is serviced every three months. It is calibrated every twelve months and re-validated every two years (more frequently if there is any change of use). In order to comply with the 'pressurised steam vessels' legislation the autoclaves are also examined annually by an insurance inspector.

Permit to work

As described above contractors who come to service or repair equipment in the CL3 laboratory must be provided with a Permit to Work form, which must be signed by a senior member of the CL3 staff or a Laboratory Manager before work commences.

Fire safety procedure

In the event of the fire alarm sounding all personnel working in the CL3 laboratories must make what they are doing safe then make their way out of the building and to the assembly point. The CL3 door integration system is switched off in the event of the alarm sounding to allow a more efficient escape. The nearest escape route form the building is along the west corridor to the lift lobby, taking the stairs up to the delivery yard, then around the outside of the building to the assembly point outside Floyer House via Newark Street.

Additional safety measures

An 'assistance button' coloured blue can be pressed in order to alert security that they have a problem and require help. Security staff will in turn call the relevant contacts in the Blizard Institute so that the appropriate action may be taken.

There is also a 'panic button' located just inside the lobby door. This can be used to raise the alarm should an unauthorised person be found attempting to gain access to the laboratory.

CCTV cameras are located in the corridor outside the lobby door and in the CL3 laboratory.

N.B. The Laboratory Management must be notified immediately of any faults that are observed in any of the Institute's CL3 laboratories.