Memo 15/09: Fume cupboard performance testing

Fume cupboards are a common type of local exhaust ventilation and therefore COSHH Regulations require an annual performance test. In the case of ducted fume cupboards this usually means a face velocity test.

In the Science Area the arrangements for face velocity testing are changing in 2010. Where previously a member of the University’s Estates Services carried out the work on behalf of departments an external contractor will now perform the tests. In addition, the contractor will undertake a general condition survey of the fume cupboards and of the ductwork and fans. The costs for this service will continue to be met centrally.

From existing records held by Estates Services the contractor will be provided with a list of departmental contacts with whom to arrange access to areas where fume cupboards are installed. Reasonable notice will be given but departments are asked to cooperate fully with the contractors so that the work can be programmed efficiently and in a timely way, and with minimal disruption to end users. Departments are responsible for ensuring that all relevant fume cupboard installations are reported to the contractors for the requisite inspection and testing to be performed.

University Policy Statement S3/14 sets out the performance standards for ducted fume cupboards and for general applications these must achieve a face velocity of at least 0.5 ms-1. Any test result indicating a greater than 20% reduction in face velocity (i.e. 0.4 ms-1) will require further investigation. A warning label will be affixed to the fume cupboard and the supervisor or facilities manager will also be notified. In such cases supervisors must ensure that the relevant risk assessments are reviewed to exclude higher risk activities where exposure is possible, due to the reduced containment. Where the fume cupboard is only used for storage of chemicals a face velocity of 0.3ms-1 is deemed sufficient. However, a reduction in the face velocity to below 0.25ms-1  in this context will also require further action and a warning label will be affixed.

The contractor will send the performance test results to the department and a copy to the University Safety Office; under the COSHH Regulations the results must be kept for a minimum of five years. For users' information, the results will be displayed on a label affixed to the fume cupboard, along with the sash height at which the fume cupboard meets its performance specification.

Where repairs or remediation are required the relative responsibilities of the department and Estates Services are set out in The Grey Book (Standing Orders for University Functional Buildings and Sites). Generally, departments are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the fume cupboard itself and Estates Services is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the associated fans and ductwork. Work on fans or ductwork may not start until the department has fully assessed the risk from harmful contaminants therein and communicated these results to the contractor undertaking any repairs, so that suitable arrangements can be made for their protection.

These arrangements apply principally to departments in the Science Area, and a few clinical departments. Where departments have engaged their own fume cupboard testing contractors or where departments are embedded on hospital sites and are subject to the Trust’s testing regime, the arrangements for ducted fume cupboard performance testing are unchanged.

Departments are reminded that recirculatory filtration fume cupboards are not tested as part of this centrally provided service, and each department is responsible for making their own arrangements (usually with the supplier or manufacturer) for their performance testing.

December 2009