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Unauthorized HEPA Filter Removal

Unauthorized HEPA Filter Removal


Electricians were preparing to install junction boxes above a dropped plaster ceiling in a clean room filtered by high efficiency particulate filters (HEPA) located in the ceiling. Per their safe to work permit (SWP) they were going to access the ceiling area through the access “hatch” panels in the room.  Once above the ceiling, they realized, they could not access their work through the hatch.  They decided they needed to remove a couple of the room HEPA filters in the dropped ceiling to access their work.  They did not revise their SWP or check with their supervisor.  Lab personnel were not aware that the HEPA filters had to be moved in order for their work to be accomplished. They spoke with the lab personnel before work commenced to verify if any special PPE was required to complete their work. They were informed that the rooms were clean rooms and they wouldn't be exposed to any hazards. The electricians thought they had communicated their scope of work clearly to the lab personnel, but they did not explain that the filters must be removed for them to run their conduit.  Once removed, the HEPA filters must be resealed and recertified for operation.

Factors to consider at your site and/or project include, but not limited to the following:

    1. Plan your work and then work your Plan!  If the plan changes, STOP and review/revise the safe to work permit (SWP). 
    2. The SWP ensures that a clear communication exists between the owner and contract company. 
    3. HEPA filters should never be removed unless authorized to do so.
    4. Never remove any filter without knowing what kind of filter it is or the process it supports.
Consider this example as you complete today’s work activities.

Safety Flash Action Items:
  • Date Contractor Safety Flash posted for all employees to review: _______________
  • Safety Talk meeting date: _______________
  • Full employee attendance and participation at safety meeting to review this incident (documentation required).
  • Employees understand urgency in protecting themselves and others.
  • Supervisors and Employees are clear which items shared in this Safety Flash are mandatory.
  • Employees/Supervisors will focus on recommended actions during future work activities of a similar nature.
Contract Firm Management Rep Signature____________________

THINK about the hazards associated with your particular work, and the steps that can be taken to increase safety on your job.


If you have questions about this CONTRACTOR SAFETY FLASH, please contact



(This Safety Flash has been previously issued and is to be used for reference purposes only)


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