The Australian Standard AS/NZS 2243.8:2014 'Safety in laboratories Part 8: Fume cupboards (ducted fume cupboards)' require that fume cupboards must have a major service every 12 months, and (only) recommends a minor service every 6 months. State and Territory Workplace Health and Safety regulators may use this Australian Standard in assessing whether a fume cupboard complies with maintenance requirements within the relevant Workplace Health and Safety Act and Regulations.
Testing and servicing
All testing and servicing should be carried out by a skilled and trained service technician using accredited analysis methodologies compliant with the Australian Standard. The National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) is the authority responsible for the accreditation of laboratories, calibration, testing and inspection activities in Australia.[i]
Science ASSIST recommends that a NATA-accredited contractor conducts the tests and provides test reports for employer records.
State/Territory Departments of Education usually have a state-wide maintenance contract, in accordance with the required standards, to ensure this maintenance testing occurs. For more information, contact your Department of Education Facility Operations Services or equivalent in your state or jurisdiction. Catholic and Independent schools, however, will need to arrange their own testing, though some companies do call their clients to arrange a time for the annual service.
- How often?
The contract should provide for routine servicing, at either 6 or 12 monthly intervals and include testing, maintenance, emergency call-out services, and fault rectification as required.
- The tests?
The Australian Standard AS/NZS 2243.8:2014 sets out methods for testing the performance of fume cupboards. Testing should include the following.
- Perform a smoke test in accordance with appendix A of the standard.
- Perform face velocity test in accordance with appendix B of the standard.
- Physical inspection of components—fans, motors, etc.
- Lighting levels and noise levels.
- Inspection of exhaust stack on the roof of the science block.
Section 5 in AS/NZS 2243.8:2014 details the six-monthly maintenance and testing operations, and the additional maintenance and testing operations to be carried out annually.
The whole system, from cupboard to discharge stack, shall be subject to periodic inspection and maintenance. A maintenance program shall be instituted and records of maintenance and tests shall be kept. There should be adequate access to the exhaust system, including dampers, scrubbers, filters and fan, as difficult access means little or no maintenance will be carried out on the system. Inspection, testing and maintenance shall be carried out by competent persons.
5.5.3 Six-monthly maintenance and testing
Six-monthly maintenance and testing operations should be carried out. The six-monthly maintenance and testing operations should be as follows:
(a) Perform a smoke test in accordance with Appendix A.
(b) Perform a face velocity test in accordance with Appendix B.
(c) Inspect and maintain fans, their motors, drives (including belts) and bearings.
Lubricate where appropriate.
(d) Check that the scrubber and wash-down facility, if fitted, is functioning efficiently.
(e) If fitted, inspect the fire damper and the release mechanism, and replace fusible link, if required.
(f) Check that any air cleaning device, if fitted, is operating efficiently and maintain if required.
(g) Check the condition of the thermal detector and sprinkler heads, if fitted.
(h) Remove baffles and clean both the baffles and the rear of the fume cupboard chamber.
5.5.4 Annual maintenance and testing
The maintenance and testing operations recommended in Clause 5.5.3 for six-monthly frequency shall be carried out at least annually and the following additional maintenance and testing operations shall be carried out annually.
(a) Wash entire interior surface of the chamber, including the aerofoil, if fitted, with dilute detergent solution and repair defects as necessary.
(b) Check condition of the services to the cupboard and ensure that all are properly identified and operational.
(c) Check stability and condition of the discharge stack.
(d) Inspect condition of the exhaust ducting, where possible, particularly the joints, and ensure drain points are clear.
(e) Check make-up air balance.
(f) Check condition and satisfactory operation of the fume cupboard control system.
(g) Check operation of the manual emergency isolator and isolation of services (see Clause 2.2.4).
(h) Check operation of the automatic emergency isolator by providing inadequate airflow conditions to the fume cupboard (see Clause 2.2.4).
(i) Test the system for overall compliance with this Standard.
(j) Attach a self-adhesive label to the fume cupboard showing the inspection date, name of inspector and report number, overall test result (pass or fail), and the date on which the next inspection is due.
NOTE: It may be necessary to take special measures (material selection or protective covering) to ensure that the label and markings remain legible for the duration of the period between inspections.”[ii]
Records of maintenance reports and tests should be kept by the employer. In schools, this is usually kept with the school administration as well as the person in charge of the laboratory (i.e., the laboratory technician/manager).
A sticker should be placed on each fume cupboard, outlining the test date, report number and results.
Safety and Housekeeping
The laboratory technician or safety officer should ensure that maintenance staff are made aware of any hazards in the area where maintenance is performed, and any precautions that need to be taken (e.g., hazardous reagents and equipment contained within the area).
The fume cupboard should be kept empty when not in use and definitely emptied when the maintenance tests are being performed.
Maintenance of the fume cupboard can be reduced by ensuring that corrosive substances are removed before damage occurs. This can be done by regularly using the wash-down facility, if fitted, and washing the entire surface of the chamber with dilute detergent solution.
More information about NATA can be found at NATA https://www.nata.com.au/
Companies servicing fume cupboards can be found on the Science ASSIST School science suppliers list.
[ii] These extracts are from AS/NZS 2243.8:2014 Safety in laboratories, Part 8: ‘Fume cupboards’ reproduced with permission from SAI Global Ltd under Licence 1407-c117