The IFBA’s Biocontainment Engineering Working Group (BEWG) was created in 2010 and serves as a “think-tank” to identify practical and sustainable solutions for biocontainment laboratories around the world. Laboratories in low resource countries often struggle to implement containment solutions which have been designed for use in other parts of the world where different working conditions prevail.
Compounding the problem is a lack of well-trained biocontainment engineers worldwide that can adequately maintain and operate laboratories and critical containment equipment (e.g. biological safety cabinets) over the longer term. Effective supplier networks, maintenance provision and other basic measures are often unavailable to those most in need. To meet these challenges, the IFBA’s BEWG was established to identify risk-based approaches to laboratory and equipment design that are cost-effective, locally driven, and can be practically implemented over the long term. The vision for risk-based approaches is not to lay out the requirements for a BSL2 or BSL3 laboratory, but rather to describe “how” these facilities should be planned and designed based on a local biocontainment risk assessment. The resulting facilities would be built-to-purpose, utilizing a more nuanced set of requirements, and would allow for investment in infrastructure, equipment and precautions suited to the type of procedures performed.