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Ergonomically designed height–adjustable isolator

The problems

The design of isolators has improved with each generation but there always remained difficulties in their use. The main difficulties requiring attention were:

Worker stooping to put hands in iscolator
Worker stretching and unable to reach bottom of iscolator

Door opening

Control issues

Lighting and visibility

The solutions

Following trials of alternative design isolator mock ups; an isolator was produced with the following features:

Manual handling

  • Two electrically driven legs allow vertical movement between 1770mm and 2270mm. Movement is controlled by push buttons located at easy reach within the cabinet. There are no changes of level within the isolator or airlocks. Therefore no lifting is required.
  • A recess in the base of the isolator is designed to allow the balance to be located centrally and the balance scale is at the same height as the base of the isolator. Containers can therefore be moved onto the balance without lifting.
  • The waste port is flush with the base of the isolator so that there is no requirement for containers to be lifted over the lid.

Glove design

  • The glove ports have large diameters and do not restrict upper arm movements. Arms and shoulders are not forced into awkward postures and can move comfortably.
  • The sleeves have been especially made to fit the large glove ports and are long enough to provide easy access to all parts of the isolator. They are made from transparent plastic to ensure the operator has better visibility.
  • Ambidextrous gloves are fitted to the sleeve cuff so that they can be used easily with either hand.
6'5" operator next to iscolator - leg extended
5'4" operator next to iscolator - leg lowered

Door opening

  • All doors are electrically operated by flush mounted push buttons. They are interlocked to prevent the outer airlock doors being opened at the same time as the inner doors.
  • Push button operation also ensures that the doors can be opened easily and comfortably without having to go through a series of manoeuvres.


  • All surfaces are smooth and curved so that they are easy to clean. All inner surfaces are within easy reach. A sloped top is also easy to reach and clean on the inside.
  • The front panel no longer needs to be lifted for cleaning although it still has this facility for use in exceptional circumstances.

Control of hazardous substances

  • “Safe-change” gloves are fitted to the isolator so that they can be changed without breaking containment. A loop is fitted to assist removal and fitting. A double bag waste-disposal unit is contained in a dedicated air-lock.
  • All doors, including the waste lid, are fitted with inflatable pneumatic seals (1.5bar), to give a secure all round seal.
  • Internal lighting can be accessed externally without breaking containment.
  • The isolator is under negative pressure to ensure containment.
  • Double safe- change HEPA filters are fitted to exhaust. These are designed for easy removal. Again, design ensures containment during maintenance. A port fitted to give access for HEPA filter integrity testing.
  • Visual and audible alarms will indicate loss of pressure and loss of air and operate simultaneously.
  • Minihelic gauges show the pressure differential across the filters and the isolator.


  • Internal lighting is angled to reduce reflection. The balance display is flush mounted at eye level to make it easier to read.

The benefits

Updated 2012-10-24