Useful Lab Equipment
One of the most useful items of lab equipment, achemical fume hoodhelps protect against hazardous fumes, vapors and particles. From high school classes to large corporate research facilities, this expensive equipment offers great utility.
Although they appear similar in appearance, chemical fume hoods and biosecurity cabinets safeguard against different types of threats. Research or experimental activities under a laboratory fume hood should meet a manufacturer’s precise specifications for its intended use. These ten quick safety tips assist people working with potentially dangerous chemicals:
Tip Number One: Keep Written Protocols Nearby
Some institutions (even universities) post guidelines for using this equipment online, but fail to keep clear written instructions close to each unit for maintenance workers, students and faculty to consult. Maintaining a set of visible posted directions beside the hood costs little money, but assures that everyone understands how to maintain the equipment in good working order.
Tip Number Two: Check Airflow
Experts such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommend checking the airflow prior to each use. Although some units furnish alarms to alert everyone to a malfunction, other models do not. Additionally, even monitors will occasionally cease working correctly on poorly maintained machines. A functional hood provides air flows that remove potentially dangerous fumes and help ventilate around volatile chemicals.
Tip Number Three: Close Full Sashes
Follow manufacturer recommendations for each unit after use. Generally, a full sash should be closed. This step will help prevent fume residues which might remain from previous sessions from entering the lab.
Tip Number Four: Reduce Distractions
Place laboratory fume hoods in low traffic areas within the room. Particularly when someone works under the hood, passing foot traffic nearby can prove distracting. Since this equipment helps safeguards against accidents, experts recommend minimizing anything that might disrupt the mental concentration of a hood user.
Tip Number Five: No Obstructions
Labs need to check that nothing blocks or obstructs the exhaust system.
Tip Number Six: Reduce Clutter
To avoid problems, safety experts recommend minimizing the number of items placed around the work area of the hood. Although some procedures require the use of volatile chemicals, keeping the work area as free of clutter as possible remains advisable.
Tip Number Seven: Place Chemicals Inside
Place chemicals fully under the hood and not along the exterior. Shorter people may display a tendency to work in locations very near the outer edge of the hood. The lab should provide access to enable them to reach fully underneath in order to move chemicals into place beneath the vents. Placing substances that produce fumes too close to the exterior won’t achieve the goal of preventing escaping vapors from seeping into the lab environment.
Tip Number Eight: Provide Immediate Maintenance
Some experts recommend offering immediate maintenance assistance in some settings if a hood becomes unavailable due to a mechanical issue. While some labs enjoy the ability to use alternate hoods, in settings where that option does not exist, prompt maintenance can prevent work flow disruptions. Often maintenance issues involve concerns such as lighting. However, since the equipment proves expensive to replace, maintaining a regular periodic maintenance schedule to check operations and correct problems early can often prevent inconvenience and expensive delays.
Tip Number Nine: Share Specifications With Maintenance
Since different models of hoods sometimes exist within a single lab and identifying equipment proves challenging in some settings, it may help maintenance or environmental health departments to have copies of model specifications shared with them. Having portions of this documentation on file enables routine exterior cleaning and maintenance overhauls at correct intervals.