Ongoing fume hood safety training plays an important role in keeping your lab workers safe from dangerous chemicals.
Whether your lab has a new employee or your technicians need refresher training, it’s critical to have a clear understanding of what procedures should be followed every time a fume hood is used and even when one is not in use.
Several universities and institutions like the Centers for Disease Control offer certification training courses in fume hood training, but it’s a good idea for your laboratory to consistently stay on top of safety procedures and training as well.
Below are some of the fundamentals you will want to focus on when reviewing safety procedures with your employees to ensure you have the most comprehensive safety program in place.
Before Fume Hood Use
Any fume hood safety training should include steps workers should take prior to using this piece of equipment. It’s important to remember that a fundamental part of safely using a fume hood involves ensuring it is in working order. And, much of the process to ensure it is in working order occurs before the fume hood is used.
Items to cover include:
- Hood sash
- Air gauge
- Exhaust fan
- Air filters
- A check for spark sources
When covering the above items, focus on ensuring each is working properly prior to using the fume hood. For example, open the fume hood sash to a proper height. If the sash is too high, there is not enough of a barrier between the user and the chemicals to provide protection. Ensure that your workers know where the set of arrows on the fume hood are located that indicate the proper height of the sash.
Check to make sure technicians know how to check the air gauge, which is important in displaying whether the air flow is within the required range, and that the exhaust fan is in good working order.
The exhaust fan is one of the most important components of a fume hood since it is responsible for removing harmful fumes from within the hood. Checking the exhaust fan should also involve examining the baffles, which are the removable partitions that create openings in the back of the hood and keep the hood airflow uniform.
Checking the air filters to make sure they are not clogged should also be part of a routine checklist. Technicians should get in a regular routine of double checking that there are no spark sources nearby as well, such as electrical receptacles and sources of static electricity.
During Fume Hood Use
Safety training should also include a heavy emphasis on the do’s and don’ts of fume hood use. For example, here are a few fundamentals to include:
Do always have eye protection on hand. Safety procedures should require the use of eye protection when handling chemicals inside the fume hood, even when the sash is in place.
Do regularly check the baffles. While they may not be blocked prior to using the fume hood, it is important for technicians to continually check them to ensure items are not blocking the baffles during use.
Do limit motion, especially around and in front of the hood. Encouraging workers to get a regular habit of doing this can help prevent a disruption of airflow in the fume hood.
Don’t leave spills until later. If a splash or spill occurs, make it part of your training to immediately clean the glass on the fume hood and clean up any spilled substances inside.
Don’t overcrowd your area. When using the fume hood, it is important to train technicians to keep any materials they are working with away from the sash … at least 6 inches from the sash opening inside of the hood.
After Using The Fume Hood
What is done after using a fume hood can be some of the most important fundamentals you cover in training.
Particularly with storage, this is often an overlooked component of safety training. Never store chemicals in the hood. Instead, all chemicals should be stored in industrial cabinets equipped to hold hazardous chemicals.
However, large equipment can be stored inside a fume hood as long as it is on top of blocks that allow air flow underneath. Make sure the sash is closed as well, since it should remain closed when the hood is not in use.
Finally, even with all the proper fume hood training and procedures put into place, accidents can still occur. It’s imperative to regularly remind and train employees what plans are in place should an accident occur. This includes developing a contingency plan to help workers act quickly and know what to do in an emergency.
You can read more about what to include in a contingency plan in our article, 5 Golden Rules Of Fume Hood Lab Safety.
Fume hood safety is an extensive subject that requires training before, during and after the use of this important piece of lab equipment. Ensuring your lab workers have a comprehensive understanding of safe work practices and procedures will go a long way in keeping everyone in your facility secure.