Design and Construction of a Biosafety Level 3 Autopsy Laboratory

Infectious diseases encountered during an autopsy pose significant health and safety risks to staff. To protect staff, forensic laboratory operations complete a biosafety risk assessment to understand opportunities for minimizing risks and incorporate standard operating procedures to address concerns. When planning a new facility, the biosafety risk assessment is a critical resource used by the design team to ensure that the individual spaces can provide safety measures and support a client’s unique and specific needs. 

The team at the New Mexico, Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI), evaluated specific risks for infection, disease severity, transmissibility and the physical complexity of the work being conducted as a part of their assessment. When complete, the assessment identified a need for safeguards and principles for a biosafety level 3 (BSL3) facility. Working with Dr. Nolte and the OMI, SmithGroup’s forensic planners used this analysis as an underpinning for design constraints that should be applied to the new facility. Recently published in the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, the article titled, “Design and Construction of a Biosafety Level 3 Autopsy Laboratory,” addresses the context the OMI was working within and the critical features for maintaining containment and public protection identified within the risk assessment.

In recognition of National Forensic Science Week, SmithGroup would like to acknowledge the work of authors Dr. Kurt Nolte, Timothy Muller, Ron Burstein, Yvonne Villalobos and our Science & Technology Practice Strategist and Director of Lab Planning, Adam Denmark. Thanks to this group of experts for sharing their insights into the design at the OMI and how facilities providing elevated levels of biosafety containment can offer information for disease surveillance and enhancing public health.

Read the full article here.