Designing and delivering world-class high containment laboratories and infectious diseases units

With the world in the grip of a pandemic, research and healthcare organisations have the increased need for safe facilities to investigate and treat highly infectious diseases like Ebola, tuberculosis, MERS, SARS and now COVID-19.

As head of Wood’s Life Sciences business in Australia, I am proud to have been involved in the design and delivery of world-class high containment laboratories and infectious diseases units for various Australian State Government health departments, top tier Australian Universities and global Medical Research Institutes.

One of the key challenges these types of facilities face are the protection of both their operators and environments ensuring consistent operations. This includes various contingency features and procedures such as safe shutdowns in case of power loss or plant equipment malfunction.

Wood has a strong background in designing and delivering pharmaceutical cleanroom facilities and services, and over the last 10 years, we have adapted this expertise to high containment laboratories. While pharmaceutical cleanrooms are designed to protect the medicinal product from the environment and operators, high containment facilities are designed to protect the environment and operators from pathogens. Like cleanrooms, high containment facilities need to be easily cleaned and decontaminated. This is where we apply our expertise and rigorous protocols to develop similar details for these facilities that we can also transfer to other areas too like chemical research facilities and battery and solar panel manufacturing.

With our niche expertise in high containment facilities design we support clients in delivering complex and critical assets that are helping combat infectious diseases. Our design solutions have helped to deliver several state-of-the-art biosafety level (BSL) 3 and 4 facilities, the highest levels of biosafety, for universities, state health departments and global organisations.

During the last Ebola outbreak, Wood led the design for the fast-tracked delivery of a BSL3 (with isolator for BSL4) day to day hospital in Australia that provides pathology testing of high-risk organisms. Presently we are acting as the specialist technical advisor for a new infectious disease unit in Australia that will be used for COVID-19 patients.

We also support and oversee the building, testing, qualification, and the ongoing certification for our clients’ facilities. Recently, we have been providing these specialised services for a world-class public health reference laboratory (BSL3 to BSL4) which provides outbreak investigations, reference testing, as well as research and diagnostic testing in Australia. These facilities help frontline workers to safely provide patient treatment, develop testing, and potentially vaccines for highly infectious pathogens.

Frederic leads the Life Sciences business in Australia for Wood’s Specialist Engineering and Consulting business. He is a highly experienced mechanical engineer and project manager with over 20 years of experience in the design and delivery of technology intensive facilities such as laboratories, cleanrooms and containment facilities. Frederic’s skills range from concept and detailed design to planning, contractor selection and project management.

Frederic Jeunet

Senior manager, Specialist Engineering and Consulting