New ISO/TC 336, Laboratory Design

Woman at a laboratory workstation ©Tyler Olson

China has become active at ISO level in the area of laboratory standardization, and has already submitted several applications for a new ISO/TC, Laboratory Design, to be established. After some resistance – Germany was not alone in opposing the establishment of such a TC, several times – the decision to establish ISO/TC 336, Laboratory Design, was taken at the 81st ISO/TMB meeting. Germany will participate in the new ISO/TC as a voting member (P-member).

Germany's occupational safety and health representatives were unable to support the application, as the planned scope is too comprehensive and also includes occupational safety and health concerns. For example, the intention is not for only basic principles to be standardized for the planning and construction of all types of laboratories (e.g. choice of location, floor plans, power supply, etc.), but also the laboratories' operation, including numerous aspects relating to safety and health during work in them. In Germany, these aspects are governed by an elaborate body of rules and regulations, including the Ordinance on biological substances, the Ordinance on hazardous substances, their body of secondary technical rules and regulations and the BG RCI laboratory guidelines on safe working in laboratories, basic principles and guidelines for action (DGUV Informative document 213-850). There are grounds for concern that this subject matter will also be addressed, and standardized differently, in the planned ISO standards.

The NA 055-02-05 GA joint working committee, Planning, construction and operation of laboratory buildings, has been established within the DIN Laboratory Devices and Installations standards committee to serve as the national mirror committee to the new ISO technical committee. Active involvement by the occupational safety and health community is urgently required here.