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Clean Air Bench

Hi, I'm Jill, Chief Safety Officer with Vivid Learning Systems. I'm a former OSHA inspector and I'm here to help you identify and correct workplace safety hazards.

For this series we're at the University of Louisville in beautiful Kentucky to show you no matter where you work, safety is for everyone.

The ventilation device were in front of now is called a clean air bench. It looks quite a bit different than the biological safety cabinet in the fume hood that we've seen.

So Rachel what makes this so much different? This is different it's also sometimes referred to as a laminar flow bench because it's going to pull in air from the room pass it through a HEPA filter, and that filtered air is going to pass through the back of the hood over your work space providing a clean particle free work area for your experiment.

So just to clarify what are its limitations compared to the other ventilation devices? It definitely doesn't add the same layer of protection in that the air is not refillterd prior to being exhausted out of the cabinet. It's in fact exhausted directly out on to the worker and into the room. And so what would we want to use this for? You definitely wouldn't want to use this for any bio-hazards. That would all be done within a biological safety cabinet and you wouldn't want to work with any potentially hazardous chemicals in here.

So one of the things that you can do with this piece of equipment is things like pouring auger plates for microbiology or perhaps sending up a PCR or anything in which you would want to protect your materials but you're not necessarily concerned about the hazard to your health or to the environment, so it's less about the employees health and more about the safety of the experiment. That you're yeah you want to preserve the integrity of your materials and protect your experiments.

Is there any kind of personal protective equipment that would be unique to using this kind of setup? Again it's very dependent on what you're doing but as with anything else we ask that everyone wear a lab coat and gloves and again, if they're going to be doing any sort of technique that could create splashes they might want to consider wearing face or eye protection just as an extra measure.

So speaking of splashes what about cleaning this up or what if you have a spill? If you spill anything in this type of cabinet or really anywhere in the laboratory you do want to clean it up immediately you don't want to neglect a spill and depending on the material that you spill you'll want to follow a different procedure that's appropriate for cleaning of that material.

Okay and then can you talk about this gauge that's on here and are there gauges on most types of ventilation systems? There is a gauge on this clean air bench. There is a similar gauge on the biosafety cabinet this is a pressure gauge and it's going to measure loading on the HEPA filter so it's very important that air be able to pass freely through the HEPA filter. If there is any sort of abrupt drop or increase and the pressure it could indicate that there's something wrong with your filter. Perhaps it's clogged and you need to have your in service so it's important that the person that's using it understands how to read the gage. Yes. Yeah you want to make it part of your routine when using this equipment to just glance at the pressure gage. Very good. Yeah very good. Thank you. Thank you.

So we've now seen three different types of ventilation devices that are used in labs and we're learning that we don't call them hoods and that they all really do some very unique things to protect employees and to protect the experiments that they're working with.

I hope you gained a safety skill today. If you know someone who needs this go ahead and pass it on. Safety is everyone's business