Biosafety cabinets, often referred to as Bio-hazardous safety cabinets or abbreviated to BSCs, don’t last forever. Also known as biological safety cabinets or microbiological safety cabinets, BSCs provide safe, enclosed spaces for working with contaminants. These essential features of laboratories can typically be used for 15-25 years, but they do suffer wear and tear, and eventually need replacing.
Performance gradually deteriorates over the years - you may notice that airflow is reduced, or that the cabinet starts to decrease in power, in some cases they may even start to vibrate. Here is a brief guide to help you decide whether it is time to upgrade to a new BSC.
1) Your current biosafety cabinet constantly needs servicing
While it may seem obvious, if your BSC is in need of frequent and extensive servicing, it is probably time to replace it. A cabinet that is in good condition should function reliably without requiring seemingly endless servicing and repairs.
2) Your current biosafety cabinet is failing bi-annual inspections
Again, this goes without saying. If your BSC is not passing the required safety checks, it is imperative to invest in one that does.
3) You are noticing corrosion and rust
Significant corrosion on the outside of the cabinet or rust on the plenums inside is a warning sign that a new cabinet is needed.
4) It is becoming difficult to find replacement parts
As BSCs become older and outdated, suppliers stop manufacturing spare parts for them. Without these, the cabinet will eventually be rendered obsolete. If you are experiencing difficulties obtaining the components you need, consider replacing your BSC within a year.
5) The needs of your workplace have changed
What was the main purpose of your BSC when you first acquired it? Has this changed at all? It is important to assess regularly whether your BSC is still meeting the needs of your laboratory. If your current BSC is not, it is a sign that you should replace it with one that does so more effectively.
6) You are looking at ways to reduce operating costs
Older models tend to be far less efficient in terms of functionality as well as energy use. For example, airflow issues may be detected more slowly in BSCs that are ten years or older, whereas recent models have the ability to measure airflow constantly. New BSCs result in considerably lower energy bills – one company’s model from 15 years ago runs 70% more expensively than their most recent BSC. A new cabinet may be a large financial outlay, but if it results in significant savings in operation costs, it will pay for itself over the years while reducing your carbon footprint.
7) You are looking at ways to improve working conditions
If laboratory employees frequently complain of stress or stiff muscles from working with BSC, upgrading to a new one could help to improve work conditions. New models tend to be better ergonomically. They are designed with greater comfort in mind, and also run more quietly than their older counterparts.
If you do decide that it is time to replace your BSC, there are a few important points to keep in mind. Firstly, before buying a new cabinet, look at the latest safety regulations and make sure that it meets them fully. Secondly, a good rule of thumb is never to downgrade – always make sure that the new BSC is better than the one it is replacing. You will also need to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of your work space, and ensure that your current BSC can be disposed of safely by a reputable service provider.
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