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Essential Safety and Maintenance Tips for Fume Cupboards

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Last updated on May 24, 2024

Essential Safety and Maintenance Tips for Fume Cupboards

Essential Safety and Maintenance Tips for Fume Cupboards

Discover Essential Safety and Maintenance Tips for Fume Cupboards - UK Edition. We are HTS (Holliday Technical Services), a specialist fume cupboard testing and maintenance company based in West Yorkshire, providing annual and ad-hoc testing and fume cupboard maintenance to schools, universities, and laboratories of any size in the UK.

Our highly trained and proficient fume cupboard technicians carry out onsite testing, repairs and fume cupboard servicing in accordance with all UK legislation, covered in this article below.

HTS have been supplying laboratories in the UK with timely fume cupboard servicing for 18 years and our sister company Holliday Fielding Hocking Ltd have been providing new and refurbished fume cupboards to the UK for over 50 years.

We are a family owned and operated company with third generation family managing operations in our business.

We can offer a wealth of experience in purchasing new fume cupboards and testing your current equipment. We supply some of the UK largest and most well respected laboratories, schools and universities and would welcome an opportunity to show you why we are a 5 star Google rated service provider.

So let's jump into the article on: Essential Safety and Maintenance Tips for Fume Cupboards: UK Edition.

Fume cupboards, often referred to as fume hoods, fume cabinets, or chemical cabinets, are integral safety devices designed for minimising exposure to hazardous substances in laboratories. These devices, essential in the realm of scientific research, come in two main types: ducted and recirculating (ductless), with each serving the critical function of controlling exposure to airborne contaminants.

In addressing the needs for comprehensive safety and maintenance, this article will delve into proper usage practices, maintenance guidelines, and the necessary legal requirements for ensuring the optimal operation of fume cupboards, including laboratory fume cupboards, ductless fume cupboards, and biological safety cabinets.

Understanding Fume Cupboards

Key Design and Safety Standards

  1. Compliance with Standards: Fume cupboards are designed to meet specific safety standards such as EN 13150:2001 and BS EN14175, which ensure they provide effective containment of hazardous substances.
  2. Airflow and Velocity: The face velocity of fume cupboards, crucial for capturing airborne contaminants, is standardized at 0.5m/s. This speed helps in drawing air into the cupboard effectively, minimising exposure to hazardous substances.
  3. Structural Requirements: The operational sash opening should not exceed 600 mm to maintain safety while allowing sufficient room for laboratory operations. The design also includes ensuring the cupboard is deep enough to accommodate laboratory equipment safely.

Placement and Usage Considerations

  • Location: To avoid interference from external factors like draughts, fume cupboards should be positioned away from doors, windows, and heavily trafficked areas. This placement helps in maintaining the integrity of the controlled environment inside the cupboard.
  • Avoiding Heat Sources: Placement of heated equipment inside fume cupboards should be minimised to prevent disruption in airflow and potential safety hazards.
  • Storage Guidelines: Storing items inside the ventilated area of fume cupboards is discouraged as it can obstruct airflow and reduce efficiency. It’s essential to keep the interior space clear to maintain optimal ventilation.

Types and Features of Fume Cupboards

  • Ducted vs. Ductless: Ducted fume cupboards, which are commonly used, are ideal for handling highly toxic chemicals, whereas ductless cupboards use advanced filtration technology suitable for less hazardous substances.
  • Specialised Types: For specific applications, such as working with perchloric acid or radioisotopes, specialised fume cupboards are available to cater to unique safety and operational requirements.
  • Innovative Designs: Features in newer models include high-performance radius profiles and APEX series premium cupboards, which offer enhanced containment and energy efficiency, making them suitable for intensive laboratory use.

These guidelines and considerations are critical for ensuring the effective and safe operation of fume cupboards in various laboratory settings.

Proper Usage of Fume Cupboards

Initial Setup and Daily Checks

  1. Verify Proper Functioning: Before beginning work, users must ensure the fume cupboard is functioning correctly, checking for any visible or audible alarms on the control panel.
  2. Assess Airflow and Space: Confirm that the airflow is within the required range (0.3m/s to 0.5m/s) and that there is sufficient working space available inside the fume cupboard.
  3. Inspect for Damage: Look for signs of damage or faults in the fume cupboard. If any issues are noticed, they should be reported immediately to prevent compromising safety.

During Use

  1. Sash Management: Keep the sash down as far as is comfortable while working to minimise exposure to harmful fumes. The sash should be closed when reactions are occurring and when the cupboard is not in use.
  2. Equipment and Storage: Use laboratory jacks for large equipment to ensure proper airflow and avoid blocking the rear air vents. Only store necessary items for the current experiment inside the fume cupboard.
  3. Emergency Procedures: In the event of a fire or ventilation failure, immediately stop work, secure the workstation, lower the sash, warn other workers, and report the issue to the supervisor or lab manager.

Post-Use and Maintenance

  1. Clean and Tidy: After use, remove all chemicals and clean the fume cupboard, ensuring it is left safe and tidy for the next user.
  2. Close the Sash: Always close the sash at the end of the day or when the fume cupboard is not actively being used.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Create a service plan that includes cleaning the fume cupboard, checking airflow indicators, and regularly replacing control valves and outlets to maintain optimal performance.

Maintenance Guidelines

Regular Inspection and Testing

  1. Statutory Examinations: Fume cupboards must undergo a statutory 'thorough examination and test' (TExT) at least every 14 months to comply with COSHH Regulations. It is recommended to schedule these tests annually to ensure continuous safety.
  2. Daily and Weekly Checks: Each day, verify that the fume cupboards are operating correctly without any alarms. Weekly checks should confirm the presence of a valid test label, indicating that the Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) system has passed its statutory test within the last 14 months.

Maintenance Record Keeping

  • Documentation: Maintain a log of all maintenance activities, inspections, and tests. Records should be kept for a minimum of five years to comply with statutory requirements.
  • Scheduling: Estates Management should keep a comprehensive schedule of all fume cupboards and ensure that records of maintenance and inspections are up to date.

Cleaning and Upkeep

  • Routine Cleaning: Perform daily cleanings of the work equipment and area, and conduct a thorough cleaning of other equipment and the workroom at least once a week.
  • Filter Checks: Monthly checks should include verifying the cleanliness and functionality of carbon filter systems in the fume cupboards. Replace the filters as needed to prevent saturation and maintain efficiency.

Legal Requirements and Compliance

Compliance with COSHH and Other Regulations

  1. COSHH Compliance: Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, employers are mandated to prevent or control exposure to hazardous substances, ensuring fume cupboards are designed to recognised standards for effective airflow control.
  2. Work Equipment and Safety: The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 necessitate that all work equipment, including fume cupboards, be maintained in a safe condition and undergo regular inspections.
  3. Pressure and Construction Regulations: Fume cupboards that operate under pressure must comply with the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000, which demand regular examination and testing. Additionally, any construction involving fume cupboards should adhere to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, requiring a principal designer and contractor to oversee the project.

Ventilation and Environmental Controls

  • Proper Ventilation: The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 obligate employers to ensure that their workplaces, including areas with fume cupboards, have adequate ventilation.
  • Safe Discharge of Air: Extracted air from fume cupboards must be discharged safely, away from doors, windows, and air inlets to prevent contamination and interference with ventilation systems.

Training and Safety Measures

  • Employee Training: Workers must receive training on safely handling hazardous substances, the operation of controls, and methods to verify their effectiveness. This training is crucial for compliance with COSHH.
  • Use of PPE: When handling chemicals identified by COSHH Essentials as hazard group S, appropriate personal protective equipment must be used to safeguard against potential risks.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Facilities must ensure that personal decontamination facilities are available, including provisions for warm water, mild skin cleansers, and soft paper or fabric towels.


Question 1: What are the key design and safety standards for fume cupboards?

Answer: Fume cupboards are designed to meet safety standards like EN 13150:2001 and BS EN14175. They have a standardised face velocity of 0.5m/s for capturing airborne contaminants. The operational sash opening should not exceed 600 mm for safety and to accommodate laboratory equipment.

Question 2: What are the considerations for the placement and usage of fume cupboards?

Answer: Fume cupboards should be positioned away from doors, windows, and heavily trafficked areas to avoid interference. Placement of heated equipment inside should be minimised. Storing items inside the ventilated area is discouraged as it can obstruct airflow.

Question 3: What are the guidelines for the proper usage of fume cupboards?

Answer: Before use, ensure the fume cupboard is functioning correctly and there is sufficient working space. Keep the sash down while working and close it when not in use. After use, clean the fume cupboard and close the sash. Regular maintenance should include cleaning, checking airflow indicators, and replacing control valves and outlets.

Question 4: What are the legal requirements and compliance standards for fume cupboards?

Answer: Fume cupboards must comply with COSHH Regulations, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000. They should also adhere to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. Employees must receive training on safely handling hazardous substances and using personal protective equipment.

Visit  www.fumecupboardservicing.co.uk for information on the services offered by Holliday Technical Services or jump directly to the page you need below:

Fume Cupboard Servicing > Uncover Optimal Fume Cupboard Performance Through Meticulous Testing & Servicing From HTS

Fume Cupboard Maintenance > Optimise Lab Efficiency And Maximise Safety With A Comprehensive Fume Cupboard Maintenance Plan

Fume Cupboard Repair > Providing essential and timely testing, maintenance and repair of UK, European and USA model fume cupboards and local exhaust ventilated equipment for over 18 years

Fume Cupboard Commissioning > Commissioning a new fume cupboard is not just about getting it operational; it's about establishing a crucial baseline for future performance and safety

Fume Cupboard Removal > As licensed waste carriers HTS have the experience and certification to remove your fume cupboards nationwide

Fume Cupboard Testing > Expert fume cupboard testing for safe labs. Trust our professionals for accurate results & compliance

PAT Testing for Laboratories and Schools > We Offer Comprehensive PAT Testing For Laboratories And Schools Tailored To Your Unique Needs

Reach Out to Holliday Technical Services for Prompt Fume Cupboard Testing in the UK

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