May 18

How often should the alarms used with a fume cupboard be checked and maintained?


As a fume cupboard specialist supplier, installer, and service partner to a wide variety of laboratories across the United Kingdom we are frequently asked the question as to “how often should the alarms used with a fume cupboard be checked and maintained“.

This is the question we will cover in this article and the good news is that the answer is straightforward and if your laboratory is not checking and maintaining fume cupboard alarms, it is easy having read this article to put into operation.

Good fume hood maintenance procedures including those to monitor airflow are designed to guarantee the proper operation of fume hoods in laboratories for all users. Whether you work in education, industry, or research, it is essential that you have a way to monitor the airflow in and around your fume hood.

As a specialist service partner to many universities, colleges, secondary schools, blue-chip industries and research organisations in the UK, we routinely check and test thousands of fume cupboards, laminar flow cabinets, biological safety cabinets and other local exhaust ventilated equipment for safety and compliance ensuring equipment reaches the standards set in BS EN 14175, BS EN 14644, COSHH and follows the guidance under HSG258.

One of the many components we check in our annual fume cupboard service is the correct operation and function of an appropriate airflow monitoring device, sometimes known as an airflow alarm.

The general purpose of a laboratory fume cupboard is to serve as the primary control method for protection against the inhalation of hazardous vapours and gases.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for inspecting fume hoods, the quality and quantity of ventilation should be checked during installation and then monitored regularly at least every three months. Each change in ventilation equipment should be reassessed. In the US the OSHA guidance should be followed, in the UK, we have our own set of standards and checks and balances, and you will find a link below to the guidance G201 from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

In education and in order to minimise the risk of accidents, it is important that both teachers and students receive comprehensive training in the correct use of the exhaust cabinets available to them.

Fume cupboards are occasionally used in Key Stage 3, often for demonstration purposes, and more frequently in Key Stage 4, where on average around half of a school’s laboratories should have one.

It is important to select fume cabinets for school laboratories that are designed according to accepted UK standards. It is also important to ensure that the room is supplied with enough air, which can replace the air that the exhaust cabinet extracts.

According to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH), fume cupboards and their alarm / airflow monitoring systems must be checked and tested, at least every 14 months to ensure that they work properly and if not, that they are repaired.

At Holliday Fielding Hocking Ltd we recommend a 12-month cycle of inspection with 6 months being required for Category 3 Level Laboratories and we use highly trained teams of service engineers that cover the whole of the UK to provide scheduled and ad-hoc services. 

What we have found and what we still find today are fume cupboards in the UK which do not have any form of airflow monitoring or airflow alarms that are non-operational and as a UK wide service provider for fume cupboards, we are frequently asked  provide costs for supply and installation of new fume cupboard alarms.

If you would like to talk to us about fume cupboard servicing, please follow the link here or call our support team on +44 (0) 113 245 4111.



Fume Cupboard, Fume Hood Q&A

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70+ Years Serving UK Laboratories