Hazardous materials workstations: safety first

Whether in research, industry or other sectors that regularly process hazardous materials, high-quality hazardous materials workstations are indispensable in the work environment to protect people and the environment from potentially harmful substances and vapours.

There are a few things to consider, however, when equipping a workstation in order to ensure the safety of employees. This article outlines what makes a good hazardous materials workstation and what the best Waldner solutions are for safeguarding your workplaces and laboratories. 

Hazardous materials workplace in the laboratory

What makes a good hazardous materials workstation?

A hazardous materials workstation offers comprehensive protection when handling corrosive, irritating, toxic or other harmful substances. This is ensured through effective extraction of vapours, aerosols and particles to prevent their escape into the surrounding air or coming into contact with employees’ skin. A hazardous materials workstation is therefore considered essential equipment for risk prevention in many areas of work.

What tasks do hazardous materials workstations perform? 

The main purpose of a hazardous materials workstation is to protect employees from hazardous substances in their daily work. But it also serves other purposes

  • Compliance with health and safety laws and standards
  • Improved ergonomics and less physical strain
  • Air quality controls
  • Increased efficiency
  • Environmental protection

Legal frameworks

Various laws and directives must be observed when fitting a hazardous materials workstation. We provide an overview of the most important legal requirements in Germany here:

  • Industrial Safety Regulation (BetrSichV
  • Ordinance on Hazardous Materials (GefStoffV
  • Technical Regulations for Hazardous Materials (TRGS
  • ATEX directive for explosion protection 
  • Extraction of hazardous materials in accordance with DIN EN 14175 

Which chemicals do hazardous materials workstations protect against?

Hazardous materials workstations must always be specifically configured for the hazardous materials processed in the facility in order to offer maximum protection. When correctly configured, they offer protection from a number of substances, including:

  • highly flammable substances
  • toxic and poisonous substances
  • irritating substances that can damage the skin and airways
  • corrosive substances that can destroy materials or living tissue
  • carcinogenic substances
  • explosive substances
  • environmentally harmful substances that can pollute water, soil or the atmosphere if released

Industries and fields

Essentially, a hazardous materials workstation is used wherever one or more of the substances listed above is handled. This covers a wide range of specialist areas and fields. The most common areas include: 

  • Science and research
  • Educational institutes
  • Medicine and health
  • Chemical and pharmaceutical industry 
  • Cosmetics industry
  • Food industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Waste and recycling
  • Construction and trades
  • Public service (forensic investigations, fire service, etc.)
Chemical cabinet from Waldner

Planning and installing a hazardous materials workstation

Hazardous materials workstations are therefore widely used throughout industry, trades and laboratory work. They are also available in different designs and can be individually tailored to the company. If you are planning to install such workstations to protect your employees, you first need to consider some questions:

  1. Which chemicals will be used?
  2. Who will use the workstation?
  3. Where will the workstation be positioned? Is mobility important?
  4. How much space is available?
  5. How much air needs to be supplied and extracted?
  6. What kind of lighting and power supply are required?
  7. Where are the hazardous materials to be stored and later disposed of?
  8. Is the work standing or seated work? How can the work environment be configured to be as ergonomic as possible?
  9. How the work area be designed to be as sustainable as possible?
  10. What equipment other than the hazardous materials workstation is required to work efficiently?

Answering these questions allows a workstation to be designed that is perfectly tailored to your operations.

Using Waldner to install your hazardous materials workstations

No two production sites, workshops or laboratories are the same – which is why our protective equipment is also bespoke. Discuss your needs with us to find the perfect solution!

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Basic equipment for hazardous materials workstations from Waldner 

Waldner offers customised and highly-specialised protection options for daily operations in industry, production sites and laboratories. We outline the basic equipment below.

Closed system with ventilation and extraction: Laboratory fume hood

First and foremost, a hazardous materials workstation requires a sophisticated ventilation and extraction system. Laboratories often use a laboratory fume hood for this purpose with transparent screens that act as a safe barrier between handler and hazardous material.

As a result, dangerous vapours, gases and dust particles are effectively removed from the surrounding air and do not come into contact with the skin, thus ensuring good air quality in the work environment.

Waldner laboratory fume hoods can also be fitted with the following equipment for extra safety, efficiency and ergonomics:

  • Secuflow: aerodynamic design to reduce the risk of backflow and increase efficiency
  • IONIC technology against electrostatic charging of fine dust and aerosols
  • Automatic closing when not in use incl. block detection
  • Optical and acoustic alarm in the event of an open front
  • Remote monitoring with cameras and temperature sensors
  • Special equipment as required, e.g., for specific thermal loads or explosion protection
  • Modular design allowing adaptability to any laboratory
  • Ergonomic details: from height adjustment to handy paper towel dispensers
Gloveboxes with viewing window

Gloveboxes with view windows 

Gloveboxes are closed systems with view windows, which can be operated with the integrated gloves. These not only protect handlers and the environment, but also the often sensitive products. For a glovebox to be work as efficiently as possible, it must be tailored to its user.

Waldner gloveboxes are therefore always individually manufactured based on the following: size, required safety locks, glove material, one-sided or two-sided operation, sensors and more, fitted according to your needs.

Custom-made insulators


Like gloveboxes, isolators are also closed barrier systems to protect people, the environment and products. However, they have special air filtering and pressure regulation. They can be used wherever toxic substances are used or wherever a sterile environment is needed – for example in the medical and pharmaceutical industry.

Our isolators strictly comply with your specified OEL limits (= Occupational Exposure Limit). They can be used in the most diverse areas, for example:

  • as a scales isolator
  • for sterile filling and dosing
  • for laboratory analyses
  • for grinding potentially hazardous products
  • for the production of tablets with highly active substances
  • as a safe connection to other containers and systems (freeze dryers, vacuum drying ovens, etc.)
Additional equipment for working with hazardous substances

Additional equipment for working with hazardous materials

The workstation itself protects employees from direct contact with hazardous substances. In addition, substances need to be safely stored and disposed of, while other features also help protect users from avoidable accidents.

Storage systems for hazardous materials

Wherever hazardous materials are handled, they need to be stored safely when not in use. Only legally-compliant cabinets and containers made from strong materials that can withstand the hazardous properties of the respective substances may be used.

A cabinet for chemicals with a collection tray that safely stores acids, alkalis and similar substances and minimises risks such as leaks and evaporation is ideal. Ideally, the cabinet should be positioned so that hazardous substances can be efficiently stored without long walking routes, for example as a safety cabinet under a laboratory fume hood. 

Legally compliant disposal

Once safe handling and storage are ensured, it’s time to think about how to dispose of the hazardous material. The disposal systems also need to be robustly manufactured and meet the respective standards and technical Regulations for Hazardous Materials (TRGS). Safe filling and transfer of residual quantities and waste must be ensured at all times.

Supply and waste disposal systems from Waldner have a safety funnel for filling waste canisters, are connected to a permanent extract air system, and show how much liquid has already been filled via a level indicator. This makes it possible to dispose of substances like acids, alkalis, flammable liquids and low-level radioactive waste safely.

Protection and first aid equipment for employees

When working with hazardous materials, the personal protective equipment of employees must never be forgotten. Depending on the substance, this includes protective clothing like gloves, boots, lab coat and safety goggles, as well as as a respiratory mask or even complete face mask.

Should an accident happen, it is vital that the first aid equipment is easily accessible at all times. From bandages and special neutralising agents to emergency shows and an eye shower/eye rinsing station: Immediate first aid must be possible in the event of an emergency. Ideally, a well-marked first aid cabinet should be positioned as close as possible to the hazardous materials workstation. 

Labelling, information and maintenance

On the subject of labelling, it should also be mentioned that clear markings, labels and warning notices further increase safety. Only if hazardous materials are correctly labelled can the right medical help be administered in the event of an emergency.

The same applies to clear and comprehensible safety data sheets and operating instructions that indicate specific hazards and safety measures in the work area and include first aid measures. Ensure that these documents are accessible at all times. In accordance with the Ordinance on Hazardous Materials, personnel should also receive training at least once a year.

All safety equipment must also be regularly maintained – as prescribed by laws and regulations like the Industrial Safety Regulation, Workplace Ordinance, TRGS, and Ordinance on Hazardous Materials.

The ideal hazardous materials workstation is customised

Optimum hazard protection in a company is based on numerous factors, but at the heart is always a well-designed hazardous materials workstation. This should not only account for factors like legal requirements, air quality, ergonomics and efficiency, but also the specific requirements of the company. This is the only way to ensure a safe and productive work environment.

Want to know more about which equipment can offer the best protection to your workforce? Then take a look at the tried and tested laboratory solutions and process systems from Waldner.

Let’s find out together how we can create a customised and tailored hazardous materials workstation for you.

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