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Why ATEX Approved Fridges & Freezers Are Important To Work Safely In Hazardous Area

ATEX-approved fridges and freezers are important to safe working environments.

During the day-to-day operations of many research facilities, flammable gases, mists, vapours, or combustible dusts may be released, creating a potentially explosive atmosphere that is dangerous for health and safety in the workplace.

When these hazardous flammable substances mix with air, equipment in the laboratory is capable of igniting the explosive atmosphere even when the equipment is working properly without faults.

If you're storing flammable solvents or other hazardous biomaterial, standard domestic refrigerators contain many ignition sources and cannot be used. Having suitable refrigerators and freezers in your research laboratory designed for hazardous environments allows you to keep risks low while maintaining the integrity of the items stored.

While you and your coworkers safety is paramount, in the competitive commercial world of bioscience, equipment that offers controlled storage of hazardous research biomaterials is crucial to your laboratory's success.

You can work safely while also storing sensitive biomaterial in your research laboratory using refrigerators and freezers with ATEX approval. The yellow ATEX sticker may seem innocuous but it means the equipment is designed for placement in environments with potentially explosive working areas.

The Gram Storage Range - Designed With ATEX Approval

Bioline Global has a range of Gram BioLine controlled biostorage solutions designed for the bioscience sector, known as the BioPlus, BioMidi, BioCompact II, BioCompact, and BioBlood models.

The biostorage refrigerator and freezer range are a Danish design meaning the manufacturing processes for safe working conditions are among the most stringent in the world.

During equipment manufacture and use, there are legal requirements and obligations to protect workers from explosive atmospheres in work places known as ATEX, a French abbreviation for “ATmosphere EXplosif”.

Internal & External Safety - At No Extra Cost

A key distinction when assessing equipment adequacy in an ATEX environment is the scope of its conformity. It is not sufficient to only comply with ATEX certification inside the storage chamber for a safe work environment. Without external compliance, researchers do not have the option to open the equipment in the presence of potential explosive gases or vapours inside.

Given that one of the main functions of a refrigerator and freezer is to allow access to its stored items, having internal and external ATEX compliance is essential to work environmental and personal safety.

All Gram models available from Bioline Global are capable of providing both internal and external ATEX compliance.

They are manufactured to comply with the European EN/IEC 60079-15 standards which specify the requirements for construction, testing, and marking of refrigerators or freezers intended for use in Category 3, Zone 2 explosive gas atmospheres. This means you can place the Bioline Global cabinets within the actual work zone instead of a remote location as would be required with only internal ATEX compliance.

Advantages Of No Cold Walls

“Cold Walls” and frost damage in a refrigerator or freezer can be a common challenge faced by researchers when storing temperature sensitive materials. Investing in equipment that has a professional design differs considerably from household and commercial refrigerators.

The Gram BioLine biostorage systems are designed with a ground-up approach using a finned tube evaporator backbone for ventilated cooling placed away from the storage chamber.

Even when product is placed against a back wall, there is no loss of biomaterial from frost damage as the fridges and freezers have controlled defrosting for frost damage. The freezers are equipped with a defrost sheild that manages temperature inside the cabinets, keeping temperatures stable with peaks to a minimum. A fan forces cooled air around the cabinet for even distribution ensuring even better temperature stability inside the cabinet.

This allows the storage space to have no cold walls that can critically damage any delicate biomaterial you may have stored.

As there is no need to worry about cold walls with the Gram range, the entire cabinet space can be used for storage, enabling maximum utilisation of the equipment.

The Gram BioLine range of fridges and freezers complies with the ATEX Directives which are the only legal acts of the European Union that covers the European Standards of legal safety requirements for equipment used in potentially explosive atmospheres:

* ATEX Directive 94/9/EC describes the manufacturing requirements before placing a product on the market [1]. It requires equipment intended for explosive atmospheres to be designed and manufactured to minimise the occurrence and severity of accidental explosions and risks such as explosion risk assessment, design, protection from explosion, and other hazards.

* ATEX Directive 99/92/EC, also known as the "ATEX Workplace Directive" or "ATEX 137", which highlights what employers must do to minimise the risk to workers from explosive atmospheres [2]. The requirements are in place to improve the level of health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.


[1] Directive 94/9/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on the approximation of the laws of the Member State concerning equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres [1994] OJ L100 p. 1-29

[2] Directive 1999/92/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres (15th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) [1999] OJ L023 p. 57-64

Category 3 - Equipment in this category is intended for use in areas in which explosive atmospheres caused by gases, vapours, mists or air/dust mixtures are unlikely to occur or, if they do occur, are likely to do so only infrequently and for a short period only.

Zone 2 - A place in which an explosive atmosphere consisting of a mixture with air of dangerous substances in the form of gas, vapour or mist is not likely to occur in normal operation but, if it does occur, will persist for a short period only.

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