Selecting the right fume hood for a laboratory is not a guarantee of improved worker safety. Users need to be trained in the proper use and operation of these hoods. It is important that the fume hood not become a chemical storage facility. The user should understand where and why the fume hood window sash should be placed. The user needs to understand how the fume hood works, how to verify basic operation, and in many cases, the procedure to be used when an airflow alarm is triggered. A competent safety, chemical hygiene, or industrial hygiene person should perform this training on a regular basis. Workers should also be observed periodically to insure that proper usage procedures are occurring and to identify areas where further guidance is necessary.
Chemical fume hoods are used in thousands of labs throughout the country to improve the safety of workers handling hazardous chemicals and reduce their level of personal exposure to these chemicals. A chemical fume hood operates on a relatively simple principle of drawing chemical vapors away from the work space within the hood and out through an exhaust system or an adsorbent filter. Despite the simple principle of operation, a fume hood management program is needed to insure their effective selection, usage, maintenance and testing. Unfortunately, this can often be overlooked by a facility and it is important to develop this type of program before fume hoods are ordered and put into active usage. As indicated above, there are several major aspects to this type of program. We will discuss testing and certification and maintenance in this edition.