Chemical Store Ventilation

Chemical Store Ventilation: Can you clarify if the exhaust fan in the chemical store should be regularly tested to ensure it is providing sufficient ventilation? I have read a few of your previous answers on this matter but could not find anything that said it should be properly tested on a regular basis. At some of my previous jobs, the technician would test the fan at the same time as the fume cupboards, but not all schools have done this.

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Publication Date: 22 November 2019
Asked By: Anonymous
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Chemical Store Ventilation

We are not aware of any guidance material, such as Regulations, Australian Standards or Codes of Practice, that set out how often the ventilation in a chemical store should be tested. However, the Model Work Health and Safety Regulations do require that control measures be maintained and reviewed to ensure that they are effective.1

‘37 Maintenance of control measures

A duty holder who implements a control measure to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety must ensure that the control measure is, and is maintained so that it remains, effective, including by ensuring that the control measure is and remains:

  1. fit for purpose; and
  2. suitable for the nature and duration of the work; and
  3. installed, set up and used correctly.’1

‘Maintenance of control measures may include: …preventative maintenance and testing programs for engineering controls such as ventilation systems, fire alarms and sprinkler systems.’2

Ventilation systems should be maintained, but the legislation is not prescriptive about how this is done. It is up to school systems to have testing and maintenance schedules in place.

It is reasonable and practical for schools to test the efficiency of the exhaust fan in the chemical store at the same time as the fume cupboard has its annual testing.

References:

1 Safe Work Australia. 2019. ‘Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011’. Safe Work Australia website. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/model-work-health-and-safety-regulations (Regulations 37 and 38)

2 Safe Work Australia. 2018. Managing risks of storing chemicals in the workplace Guidance material. Safe Work Australia website. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/managing-risks-storing-chemicals-workplace

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