Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems remove hazardous dust, gas and fumes from the air to keep the air workers breathe safe. The systems need to be tested regularly to ensure they are functioning correctly. In this article, we look at the legal obligations of an employer with regard to LEV testing.
The symptoms of respiratory disease tend to take a long time to appear after exposure and for this reason the consequences of exposure are not appreciated. When symptoms appear, they are irreversible. Respiratory diseases caused by exposure of hazardous substances in the air include: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), occupational asthma, silicosis, cancer, pneumonia and mesothelioma. Putting the right controls in place and maintaining those controls adequately makes respiratory disease preventable.
Certain processes in the workplace generate dust, fumes, gas, mist, oil or spray, which can be harmful to health. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations say that employers must take measures to minimize workers’ exposure to these substances. COSHH Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) outline what these limits are. Exposure means uptake into the body and employers can take appropriate measures to minimize this uptake, such as using lidded containers, vacuuming and wet cleaning surfaces rather than brushing, providing personal respirators etc. However, for very dusty processes, or if there is still a risk to your workforce once other preventative measures have been implemented, you will need to install a LEV system. A LEV system will remove dust particles from the atmosphere and maintain health and safety compliance. In certain areas, mobile dust extraction units might be necessary.
HSG258 outlines the principles and good practice of choosing, designing, commissioning and testing LEVs and is written for suppliers of LEV goods and services and is also helpful for employers and managers. Download the latest copy of the HSG258 here.
There are 3 types of assessment listed in HSG258. These are:
Commissioning – This is a Thorough Examination and Test (TExT) of a system, undertaken when a system is first installed or when there have been any alterations to the system.
LEV Test – This is a Thorough Examination and Test (TExT) of a system and is a mandatory statutory assessment at the frequency outlined in the next section.
Weekly checks – These are weekly visual assessments to ensure that the LEV System is in good condition.
LEV testing remains a statutory requirement and the COSHH Regulations 2002 still apply during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your business remains open and your process and machinery are running, you must still manage the risk to protect your employees.
If your process and machinery are not currently operating, according to HSE guidelines, an LEV system should be subject to a thorough examination and test prior to restarting.
LEV Test Frequency
According to the HSE, an employer ‘must maintain LEV system performance’. In addition, COSHH ‘Regulation 9 – Maintenance’, states that a thorough examination and test must be conducted at least every 14 months. Exact frequency of testing will be established according to the outcome of the risk assessment, as detailed in ‘Regulation 6 – Risk Assessment’.
Maintenance regimes can be evaluated by observing evidence of poor repair such as holes in ducting or blocked and dirty extraction systems. The records of examination and testing may be inadequate. The interval of examination for all LEV systems is at least once every 14 months. A record of testing must be kept for at least 5 years and the employer, supervisor and operator must all be aware of when the last examination was conducted and when the next one is due. All information about testing and examination should be kept on the installed LEV system for the life of the system.
LEV Test Qualification
LEV systems must be regularly tested by a qualified person. The minimum qualification needed to test LEV equipment is the P601 – Thorough Examination & Testing of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) Systems.
P601 is a British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) approved course, which is recognised by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) and the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS).
At HVDS, we design, commission and test LEV systems. Contact us here for more information or get in touch on 01785 256976. Or for a FREE dust extraction survey, click here and fill out our online form. We’re happy to help!