Engineering Controls

Using Them to Protect Yourself and Others

Earlham College provides engineering controls in the sciences to help reduce exposure to hazards and keep employees and students safe.

Fume Hoods

Fume hoods work by pulling air from the lab, pulling it into the hood and then out into the atmosphere. They are especially useful when working with dangerous chemicals and those with caustic vapors.

The hood provides two defenses from danger; 1. It pulls dusts, mists, and vapors away from you; 2. The sash, when properly used, provides a physical barrier between you and the hazard, thereby minimizing potential splatter reaching your body.

To properly use a fume hood, follow these guidelines:

  • Keep your work at least six inches inside of the hood
  • Do not store chemicals in hoods you are working in
  • Do not block exhaust areas
  • Work with sash at lowest practical level for maximum protection, but always below the safe level (this is just below head level)
  • Some hoods may have an ON/OFF switch; leave hoods on at all time

**Note** Laminar flow and bio-safety hoods DO NOT offer protection from chemicals.

Safety Cabinets

Chemicals with special storage considerations maybe stored in safety cabinets. These cabinets are designed to limit potential exposure to chemicals in storage, isolate them from incompatible materials, and to limit fire potential (flammables). Some common cabinets include flammable cabinets (yellow or red), corrosives cabinets (blue), and poison/toxic cabinets.

Other Engineering Controls

Other engineering controls such as glove boxes, isolation rooms, etc. may be provided for use. Your supervisor or instructor will indicate the standard operating procedures for those controls as needed.


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