In the UK alone, thousands of people each year develop lung diseases as a result of their occupation, through breathing in dust, fumes, or dangerous airborne contaminants in their workplace. Many industries are affected, from medical lab research to woodworking, and everything in between.

The affects can be easily avoided if effective control measures are put in place. Installing a local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system to extract harmful substances from the atmosphere will minimise the risk of exposure to your workers and help safeguard them from harm.

What Is LEV?

In its simplest terms, a LEV system is an extractor fan, which pulls harmful dust or fumes away from its source, minimising exposure to workers. A hood is used to enclose the source of the contaminant, while a fan generates air flow; meanwhile, air is conducted from the hood through duct work to a filter which removes harmful particles from the extracted air, and finally the safe air is discharged into the atmosphere.

There are many kinds of LEV systems, and the type used will depend on the properties of the airborne contaminant, the work processes involved which generate the contaminant, the work environment, and the needs of the operator working with the sources.

Legal Requirements For LEV Systems

There are several pieces of legislation which apply to employers working with potentially hazardous substances, and who therefore require LEV extraction:

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) sets out the health and safety duties that employers have to themselves, their employees and others who may be affected by their work.
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) adds specific requirements to the HSW Act, such as employers needing to assess the degree of exposure to hazardous substances and implement adequate control measures.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR) ensures that employers are competent for health and safety purposes, including ensuring control measures are maintained and tested.

The Health and Safety Executive has also issued supplementary guidance on deciding on, designing, commissioning and testing effective LEV:

Requirements include daily, weekly and monthly in-house checks to ensure the system continues to run properly, regular maintenance, and thorough testing. Despite the regulations, many employers are still unaware that they are legally obliged (under COSHH) to arrange a thorough examination and test of their system every 14 months – as a bare minimum. It may, in fact, be required more regularly if the application of your LEV system means the system’s effectiveness is likely to degrade within that time.

Why LEV Testing Is Important

Testing calls for real expertise in the legal requirements around LEV systems, proficiency with measurement and assessment instruments, knowledge on the standards to which each part of the system should perform, how to recognise which part of the system is not working to the required standard, and how to test if the LEV is effective in reducing exposure to airborne contaminants.

Ultimately, regular checks and maintenance will keep your LEV system running – but only thorough testing will identify if there are any faults with the machine which could be putting your staff at risk, and ensure that the system continues to control the level of exposure.

How Does LEV Testing Work?

COSHH regulations dictate that LEVs must have maintenance, examination and testing of control measures every 14 months as a minimum.

HSG258 expands on COSHH sets out 3 stages to LEV testing:

  1. A thorough visual and structural examination to verify the LEV is in efficient working order, in good repair and in a clean condition.
  2. Review of the technical performance to check conformity with commissioning or other sources of relevant information.
  3. Assessment of control effectiveness.

After testing, the examiner will be able to confirm if the system is unsafe or if contaminant control is still sufficient that the LEV can continue to be used, and a test certificate will be issued.

Need Your LEV Tested?

Crowthorne Group are experts in the examination and testing of LEV systems. Our engineers are BOHS IP601 certified – the official qualification from the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection in the thorough examination and testing of Local Exhaust Ventilation systems.

We can ensure that your LEV system is working to the highest possible standards and continues to protect your staff from hazardous substances.

In addition, we’ll advise you on if you should have your system tested more frequently than the 14 month minimum as set out by COSHH, depending on your system’s application.

If your system does not pass the HSG258 tests, we can undertake all remedial works, such as supplying and installing replacement fans or LEV extraction arms.

If you’d like to arrange testing of your LEV systems, please get in touch today.

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