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Fume Cupboard Safety and Maintenance

Fume Cupboard Safety and Maintenance

The Ultimate Guide to Fume Cupboard Safety and Maintenance

Fume cupboards prevent exposure to hazardous substances in laboratories, when they are correctly maintained. Safety and maintenance of fume cupboards is incredibly important, and needs to be fully observed at all times.
Here, we offer our guide to fume cupboard safety and maintenance.

Observe the Legislation

There are a number of pieces of legislation which relate to the use of laboratory fume cupboards. These are:

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

This act explains that it is a legal requirement to ensure the systems of work are safe, providing no risks to health. It continues to state that full training, instruction and information to ensure health and safety are all provided, and that all potential risks are removed.
These regulations have been stated as a control measure to prevent exposure to hazardous substances. It makes it a legal requirement to control exposure to such substances within acceptable limits.
Suitable and sufficient risk assessments must be completed prior to work activity being undertaken, and all subsequent arrangements must be made.
All pieces of work equipment, including fume cupboards, must be maintained to a safe working standard. Sufficient protection must be given to all users of the fume cupboards.
It is vital that all electronics within, and supporting, the fume cupboard are regularly checked and maintained to ensure nothing has corroded.

Correct Usage

It is vital that fume cupboards are used only for experimental work. A fume cupboard should never be used as a storage cupboard for pieces of science equipment. Filling the cupboard can compromise the air flow and increase the chance that harmful substances may leak into the laboratory. The presence of stored chemicals in the cupboard could increase the risks if an accident were to occur.
Likewise, it is important to avoid unnecessary clutter such as safety screens, ovens and trays. Again, this will cause turbulence in the air drawn across the base of the cupboard. The effect of turbulence can be lessened by raising all large objects off the base of the cupboard by placing them on blocks.
Do not set up equipment close to the front edge of the fume cupboard – as this can increase the likelihood of creating turbulent air flow with the stream being drawn towards to front of the cupboard. As a rough guide – all pieces of equipment should be placed at least 150mm from the front of the glass.
It is important to avoid rapid movements in front of the fume cupboard and within the installation. Again, this can disrupt and disturb the air flow – potentially allowing harmful substances to escape.
Furthermore, fume cupboards are not designed for work with micro-organisms. This work and research should be reserved for use with microbiological safety cabinets.

Effective Maintenance

It is a legal requirement that all fume cupboards should be maintained and tested at least once every 14 months in accordance with the British Standard. Records of inspections and maintenance must be kept on file, alongside certificates provided by maintenance contractors. A fume cupboard which is not inspected on schedule, or fails the inspection, will be immediately taken out of use.
 The contractors will complete the following checks and tests:
  1. Check the conditions of the services to the fume cupboard and test the functioning of any alarms and all controls
  2. Complete a face velocity test
  3. Check the condition of the fan
  4. Check the duct work, and clean where necessary
  5. Ensure the make-up air pumped into the laboratory is of a satisfactory standard.
The face velocities (the speed at which air is drawn through the front) of the fume cupboards must also be clearly marked on the exterior of the cupboard.
The InterFocus team can help you install an effective fume cupboard in your industrial or research laboratory. For more information about how we can transform your laboratories, visit our homepage or contact us now on 01223 894833.

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