The recent measles outbreaks in Graz have attracted attention for the possible outbreak of an epidemic. “Biosafety” is the magic word for the right way to deal with it.

Measles is a highly contagious disease – an infected person infects up to 18 (unvaccinated) people. The current case in January 2019 at the University Hospital Graz shows how great the danger is – 28 babies were admitted with suspicion of measles. In order to counteract an epidemic, numerous measures must be taken in advance and, above all, work must be done to raise awareness. Lorenz Consult is confronted with this again and again as a planner. In the following interview Mr. Christian Lorenz talks about sensitisation, the protection of hospital staff and what has to be taken into account in the planning.

Why is biosafety also an issue for you?
DI Christian Lorenz: We are very strongly represented in the health sector – in laboratory planning or the implementation of large laboratory projects. When dealing with the topic of infections and infectious patients, we need the appropriate expertise. The necessary protection of the personnel deployed and the environment is becoming increasingly important.

What is the tension between planning and who does it have to do justice to?
DI Christian Lorenz: The special feature is to plan the danger zone – the so-called containment – in such a way that the people working in it are protected and that dangerous viruses are prevented from escaping. This also includes the possibility of decontamination and the maintainability of the main plant components. Even at the planning stage, consideration must be given to how ventilation systems are to be designed, what happens to the waste water, how cleaning is to be carried out and, in an emergency, decontamination.

What is the planning process like?
DI Christian Lorenz: First, the customer prepares a risk assessment. The questions are: Which biological substances (e.g. viruses) do I have to deal with? Which hazards are possible? Biosafety is first and foremost personal protection – i.e. the protection of personnel – and then environmental protection. Examples are swine flu, Ebola or the military sector.

In concrete terms, there are three overlapping competences:

  1. Organisation
  2. Staff training
  3. Planning and implementation of technical solutions

Our task is to plan and build dense areas. Ventilation systems and filters are also important here. We consider the whole room or individual clean room workbenches.

What information do you need before you can start?
DI Christian Lorenz: We are constantly improving our knowledge in this area: Germany is the centre of knowledge in Europe. For this reason, we are relying on a cooperation with MLT-Labortechnik from Frankfurt. Managing Director Hans-Jürgen Ullrich is the expert in Germany here – he also carries out risk assessments.

Digitisation and biosafety – how do the two complement each other?
DI Christian Lorenz: We are specialised in both areas and have been able to build up a great deal of expertise here. Ultimately, biosafety and digitization overlap: in the digital twin, I can simulate conditions that provide important information for operation.

If you are interested in further information, please contact Mr. DI Christian Lorenz.