Refrigerators and freezers for laboratories and pharmacies come with a wide range of temperature control, programmable defrost times, self-closing doors, keypad locks, bacteria-proof coatings, digital controls and alarm/monitor systems. They are used to store various materials, chemicals and samples, some of which can be quite volatile. Moreover, incompatible chemicals and spillage can potential hazards when vapors are released from the stored contents. Here are some prudent practices to ensure safety with lab refrigerators and freezers:
- Place the refrigerator against a fire-resistant wall. Ensure it has heavy duty cords, preferably encased in unbreakable secondary containers, and its own circuit breaker
- Check the refrigerator or freezer regularly to see that the electrical cords are in good condition, the door seals are intact, and the air filter is dust-free and clean.
- Avoid placing toxic or hazardous material in the equipment. Escaping vapors from such substances will usually be absorbed into the surrounding insulation, resulting in a hazardous and explosive mix of air and the vapor. If this cannot be avoided, place a prominent warning sign on the refrigerator/freezer door.
- Never use laboratory refrigerators and freezers to store food or beverages meant for human consumption.
- All samples should be clearly labeled using water-proof ink. Use waterproof labels – if not, cover labels with transparent tape.
- Consider chemical compatibility when storing samples in a refrigerator or freezer with limited space.
- If the refrigerator is used to store volatile or flammable chemicals, make sure that there are no potential sources of electrical sparks inside the device. Make modifications on the refrigerator, if necessary to ensure this.
- Clean the interior regularly and conduct full maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Maintenance of lab refrigerators and freezers should be performed only by authorized service personnel.
Leading manufacturers like Summit Appliances offer both regular and under-counter refrigerators and freezers that are 100% CFC-free and UL-listed, standards which ensure validated performance, and environmental health and sustainability.