Working with fume cupboards

These guidelines describe the correct way to work with fume cupboards. They apply to both employees and students.

Norsk versjon: Bruke avtrekksskap

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When should I use a fume cupboard?

You should use a fume cupboard when you are handling chemicals or materials that might lead to:

  • hazardous or flammable/explosive vapours
  • dust
  • bothersome smells

See the requirements for fume cupboard use under points 7 and 8 in the safety data sheet for the applicable chemical.

The work area inside the fume cupboard should not be used to store chemicals. Store volatile chemicals in separate cupboards with exhaust systems. Some fume cupboards have sub-cupboards with exhausts that may be used to store chemicals in small amounts.

Correct use of fume cupboards

Everyone who uses fume cupboards should familiarise themselves with the safety requirements and the guidelines for responsibility and tasks for fume cupboards.

Familiarise yourself with the safety requirements and rules for correct use before you start using the fume cupboard:

  • If you are working in an older cupboard without an alarm, check the air flow by attaching a piece of thin paper to the shutters underside so that the paper hangs free.
  • If the cupboard has a control panel, learn how to use it.
    • Cupboards with a maximal (emergency) air flow function should be put back into regular operation mode after the need for increased air flow has ceased.
    • If the cupboard has a reduced (minimal) air flow function, this should never be used while the fume cupboard is in use.
  • Close the cupboard as much as possible, and never have a higher working opening that 30 cm. This height should be marked on the cupboard.
  • Raise the cupboard closure slowly so that the air flow can be regulated properly.
  • Remove equipment, bottles and other objects from the fume cupboard while working whenever possible. If the planned use of the fume cupboards requires a lot of equipment in the cupboard, consider how this can be done as safely as possible. The air flow can be visually tested using smoke to check for turbulence and the risk of leakage. Contact the operations division for help conducting such a test.
  • Work in the centre of the fume cupboards as much as possible. Work at least 20 cm from the cupboard’s opening.
  • Use slow motions while working.
  • Never stick your head in the fume cupboard.
  • Avoid traffic around the cupboard while you are working.
  • Always close doors and windows close to the cupboard while you work.
  • Clean and tidy the fume cupboard after use.
  • Always close the fume cupboard after use.
  • Note that the chemical’s properties, especially the chemical gas’s weight, effects how the vapours disperse in the fume cupboard. For work with poisonous substances and heavy vapours, you should figure out how much airflow is needed to work safely. For this purpose, you should perform a risk assessment. Special requirements apply to chemicals such as hydrogen fluoride and perchloric acid.
  • Monotone and repetitive movements while working in the fume cupboards can overload the body. The neck, shoulders and arms are especially susceptible to these problems. Pay attention to your work position and the length of the task at hand. See||See advice on ergonomics in laboratories]] (in Nowegian). Contact Occupational Health Services for more information on ergonomics while working in fume cupboards.

Taking measures in the case of problems with the fume cupboards

See the guidelines for what should be done and who you should contact in the case of problems with the fume cupboards.

Also see

Contact information

HSE coordinators at NTNU

The HSE division:

The Operations division, NTNU:

  • For technical emergencies: 918 97 335
  • Technical service and help: Trond Haugen, tel. 918 97 223
  • Documentation: Per Gjengår, tel. 918 97 218

The Operations division, St. Olav’s Hospital:

Warn the customer centre about problem at tel. 06750.

In the need for emergency help outside of regular work hours arises, call the technical guard at tel. 995 84 151.


Approved by the head of HSE - February 21 2014 - HMSRV6202E - ePhorte 2014/3970