Revised on
01/26/17 02:10pm
SafetyNet #

Use of Refrigerators and Freezers in Laboratories

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This SafetyNet outlines requirements for the safe use of refrigerators and freezers in the laboratory setting. Key items to consider include:


General Purpose: General purpose, household-type refrigerators and freezers are designed for storage of food and beverages. They are appropriate for use in lunchrooms and offices. General purpose units constitute a hazard if used for the storage of flammable materials or unstable chemicals. Household-type refrigerators and freezers are permitted in laboratories exclusively for storage of non-flammable aqueous solutions or other non-flammable or non-explosive materials.

Flammable Material: Only lab-safe or flammable material storage refrigerators and freezers are designed for storage of flammable materials, both liquid and solid. The interior of a lab-safe unit has no switches that could arc or generate other spark points to provide a source of ignition. Flammable materials storage refrigerators/freezers are appropriate for chemical storage in most labs at UC Davis. Lab-safe refrigerators/freezers must be listed by a recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL). For guidance on what constitutes a flammable liquid, refer to FireNet “Flammable Liquid Storage” or consult with EH&S.

Explosion-Proof: Explosion-proof refrigerators/freezers are designed to prevent ignition of flammable vapors or gases that may be present outside of the unit. If you think you need this type of unit, consult with EH&S.

Storage of food and drink:

Do not store food or drink in any refrigerator/freezer in a laboratory. Eating and drinking, or storage of food and drink, is prohibited in laboratories where hazardous chemicals are used or stored (UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual 290-56). All refrigerators must have a label that indicates that they are not for storage of food and drink. Contact EH&S for labels.


All units must be clearly labeled to indicate whether they are appropriate for storage of flammable materials. All units must have a label that indicates that they are not for the storage of food and drink. Contact EH&S for labels.


Refrigerators/freezers should be cleaned on a regular basis and old chemicals should be properly discarded through the EH&S hazardous waste program. Freezers that are not frost-free should be defrosted regularly. Refrigerators/freezers use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) such as Freon. Before discarding old equipment, the CFCs must be removed by a certified technician. Contact the Facilities Operations and Maintenance work order desk for assistance.

Special considerations for the Sacramento campus:

All refrigerators/freezers located in hospital or clinical laboratories must be lab-safe.

The Sacramento campus has a campus-wide refrigerator/freezer monitoring system called Metasys. To add, delete, or make changes for Metasys monitoring have your department submit a work order through the online work order system.