Relocating a lab is more than just gathering up your test tubes, petri dishes, and team and plopping it into a new space. When relocating your lab, you have an opportunity to redesign and reorganize your space, optimizing it for creativity and innovation. Lab relocation also requires some serious research around local regulations and policies when it comes to transporting your research, whether you have hazardous materials, live animals/subjects, or other high risk items involved in your experiments.
Here’s our guide to relocating that will help you prioritize safety and efficiency as you move your lab space.
How to Plan for Lab Relocation
Before we dive into the nitty gritty details of relocating a lab, here are our overall tips for relocation.
- You can never be too organized.
- It’s a team effort.
- There will be things that you don’t anticipate...so prepare for that.
- Document everything.
- Work with specialists who have worked with scientists and labs before.
Here’s how to think through a lab relocation and create a detailed plan for a lab move.
Many areas have strict local regulations. For example, you may need to have a fire safety inspection. If you’re crossing state lines when relocating your lab, you’ll need to review the US Department of Transportation’s guidelines on transporting hazardous and other types of materials.
Additionally, you’ll need certain types of vehicles, storage containers, and moving equipment to transport temperature-sensitive materials, fragile equipment and supplies, and live subjects.
You will need to find out what you need to do in your existing space to safely move out. Find out about how your equipment will be decontaminated and decommissioned, and how you can terminate your services like gas or waste disposal. Review this guide to safely relocate chemicals, radioactive materials, and other specialty materials.
First, outline the phases of your relocation with a timeline, tasks, deliverables, stakeholders, and include any inspections or other key dates. Once you’ve created a realistic timeline with action items, create a detailed plan for the move itself.
Take a look at Harvard’s lab move-in checklist. By creating your own detailed lab relocation plan and checklist, you can avoid errors and mistakes that will delay the moving process.
Here are some ideas from Harvard’s checklist:
- Conduct a hazard assessment of the new space
- Create a lab safety orientation guide for all employees outlining the safety procedures of the new space
- Post necessary signage for chemicals, hazardous materials, PPE requirements, and emergency protocols
Lab moves are delicate operations. Without the right team or expert consultation, a poorly handled move can lead to unsafe transport or handling of your materials, or damage to equipment or experiments.
Lab moves handled incorrectly can result in:
- Chemical or hazardous material spills
- Staff injury from unsafe transport or spills
- Damaged materials or experiments
- Incorrectly transported items (wrong temperature or storage method) resulting in loss of materials, progress, or data
- Delays in research
Professionals or experts in lab moves can help to eliminate the risks and stress associated with lab relocation.
When designing a new lab space, prioritize safety, organization, workflows, and collaboration. Create an efficient lab space by labeling and organizing most-used materials. Create flexible storage areas and multipurpose stations for research or solo data analysis. Design a space that is well-suited for your team’s needs, so make sure to include all lab personnel in decision-making. You can use surveys to get feedback from all staff from administrators to researchers. Designing an efficient lab will decrease the risk for error and allowing for flexibility will give you the room to grow.
Relocating your lab can be a smooth operation if you use your resources wisely and cross your Ts and dot your Is on the detailed checklist you create. You can’t be too thorough or too organized and color-coding, sticky notes, and physical checklists will be your friend!