Safety Measures You Should Take When Working with a Fume Cupboard

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Safety Measures You Should Take When Working with a Fume Cupboard

Working in an environment with toxic or flammable materials will always carry some level of risk due to their volatile nature, however, ensuring you adhere to best practise when operating a contained environment will ensure to reduce potential accidents that may cause damage to health.

In this article, we will share the safety measures you should be taking when operating a fume cupboard.

Read instructions on the face of the hood

There should be a label on the face of the fume cupboard stating whether the airflow is within range for working with specific materials. This should always be referenced to before working with a new material to ensure adequate protection will be provided to the external environment.

Inform colleagues before experimentation

Whilst it is likely colleagues working within the same team or close by will be aware of what you are doing, it is important to confirm this before dealing with any toxic substances that others may not be fully protected from. It is also vital that there is no accidental contamination of materials which may be corrosive or flammable, so ensure you leave enough time in between uses.

Wear all necessary PPE

Carbon filters offer a great deal of protection against hazardous contaminants; however, it is still essential to use PPE as an extra safety measure when handling potentially toxic materials. This includes gloves, a lab coat, and safety googles, however it is also important that you choose the right glove for the material you are handling, as if too thin this may not provide a high enough level of protection.

Keep work surfaces clear

Before you use your fume cupboard, it is important that you remove any flammable or combustible items from surrounding work surfaces in case there is an accidental contamination from materials being handled. Prepare your workspace with only the essential items you will need, and once complete remove anything that could interfere with future experiments.

Check your equipment regularly

In order to ensure that your fume cupboard is not only fit for purpose but does not pose a risk to those working in the same environment, you must complete regular checks in addition to annual statutory inspections by a competent and qualified provider. The following checks should be completed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis:

Daily checks
  • Is your fume cupboard functioning correctly?
  • Are there any visible or audible alarms?
Weekly checks
  • Is there a valid test label indicating the LEV system has passed its annual statutory check within the last 14 months?
Monthly checks
  • Have you carried out a visual ‘smoke pencil’ test?
  • Has an anemometer been used to measure face velocities?

Does my carbon filter need changing?

While the lifespan of an activated carbon filter will vary depending on usage and the types of contaminants being filtered, it is important to know when it is time to replace your carbon filter to maximise absorption of contaminant molecules and reduce risk to operator health.

We recommend consulting your manufacturer’s guidelines to find out exactly how often you should be changing the filter used in your fume cupboard, however if this is not available, please contact one of our specialists at Absolute Carbon Filters to advise you on the best solution for optimal performance.