Purchasing or Relocating a Biological Safety Cabinet

Biological Safety Cabinets: Request to Purchase or Relocate

When purchasing a new biological safety cabinet (BSC) or relocating an existing cabinet, the researcher needs to complete the Biological Safety Cabinet: Request to Purchase or Relocate form for each cabinet.

After the form is received and reviewed by BFS staff, an environmental control technician from the BFS office will conduct a site visit of the proposed location. The purpose of the site visit is to confirm that the proposed location meets biosafety requirements and to assist the requestor select an appropriate placement of the cabinet.

After the review is complete and the cabinet is approved, BFS will email the requester a notice of approval. If purchasing a BSC, a copy of this approval notice needs to be provided to Purchasing.

If relocating or surplusing a BSC, it must first be cleaned by laboratory staff, taking special care to remove sharps and other instruments under the work surface. Then the BSC must be decontaminated using gaseous paraformaldehyde. Contact EH&S to arrange this process two weeks prior to the date of the move or surplus pickup. Information about laboratory move-in/move-out and a checklist are in the Lab Safety Manual at http://www.ehs.washington.edu/manuals/lsm/lsm10.pdf. A sign will then be attached to the BSC indicating it has been decontaminated and is safe to move.

Laboratory Criteria for Installation of BSCs

In order for a BSC relocation or new purchase to be approved, the proposed laboratory for the BSC must meet biosafety laboratory design requirements. Cabinets may not be installed in offices, public hallways, or common areas. The EH&S Laboratory Safety Design Guide (LSDG): Biosafety Laboratories (PDF). describes the design requirements for biosafety containment levels one (BSL-1), BSL-2, and BSL-3 labs. Some examples of these requirements include:

  • Doors must be lockable.
  • If the lab has operable windows, they must be secured closed.
  • The lab may not be carpeted or have other pervious surfaces on the floors.
  • The room finishes must be easily cleanable.
  • The lab must contain a sink suitable for hand-washing.
  • Food and drink may not be consumed in the lab. The proposed location may not have coffee makers, microwave ovens, etc.

Review the LSDG: Biosafety Laboratories (PDF) for requirements specific to your lab’s BSL prior to submitting the request to purchase or relocate. This should help speed the review and approval process. If you do not know your lab’s BSL, contact the EH&S Research and Occupational Safety (ROS), (p: 206.221.7770).


BSC Placement

The BSC must be located at least six (6) feet from lab doors, operable windows, supply diffusers, and other sources of air movement. If you have space constraints, contact BFS staff for assistance in assessing placement options.

There should be the following minimum amount of clearance around the BSC:

  • 12” above the top
  • 4” on sides without utilities
  • 6” on sides with utilities

Note that Type II A2 cabinets with canopies and Type II B2 cabinets may require more than 12” clearance above the top.

BSCs must be seismically secured once installed. This must be feasible in the proposed location. This work can be done by Facilities Services and requested through FS Works.

Appropriate utilities need to be available for the BSC. This includes power, but may also include vacuum and other gas services. New BSCs require a 20A cap cord outlet.


Canopy Connections

EH&S will recommend a canopy (or thimble connection) above the BSC if chemical use in the BSC indicates that one is needed. This recommendation is based upon information provided by the user in the request form. Chemicals used for decontamination, such as small quantities of ethanol, do not typically require a canopy connection. See the Focus Sheet “Chemical Use in Biological Safety Cabinets” for further information about chemical use in BSCs.

If a canopy is not already installed in the proposed location, a design for a new canopy needs to be submitted to EH&S and reviewed prior to BSC approval. For design services, contact the Capital Projects Office (CPO).

If the BSC purchase or relocation is part of a renovation or construction project and you are working with the CPO, please include the project name and number on the request form. This will assist EH&S in coordinating your request with CPO, which will speed up the review process.

BSC Selection/Identification

Any new BSCs must be on the EH&S BSC approved list. There are no exceptions to this criteria.

For relocations of BSCs within UW, please note the EHS& cabinet number, make and model on the request form. For BSCs moved to the UW from other locations, also include the age and history of the BSC on the request form.

If you do not use biological agents but need product protection for your work, consider using a clean bench instead of a biological safety cabinet.