Thousands of British workers contract occupational asthma and other lung diseases each year. They develop them because they breathe in too much dust, fume or other airborne contaminants at work. Even though the number of accident related deaths are reducing over the long term, deaths due to exposure remain stubbornly high.
During 2006, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was mandated by government to reduce the number of work-related instances of respiratory disease; better understanding and enforcement of COSHH regulations relating to airborne particulates were thus targeted.
Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is a common and important way of controlling exposure. But work by the HSE has shown it is often poorly designed, applied and maintained and doesn’t effectively control exposure. Consequently, they are running a major project known as the ‘HSE LEV Project’, that promises a revolution in LEV exposure control and in reducing occupational disease.
The HSE Action Plan for Local Exhaust Ventilation Systems
- The HSE has written new LEV guidance for employers (INDG 408), employees (INDG 409) and suppliers (HSG 258).
- All HSE Inspectors are to undertake one-day LEV training course (this has already taken place)
- On visits to premises that use LEV to control exposure, inspectors will verify that that the systems are properly designed and installed, and that inspections are being carried out ‘annually’
- Training for installers, examiners, and employers is being provided on a continual basis by the Health & Safety Laboratories (in conjunction with British Occupational Hygiene Society)
- HSE Inspectors are instructed to issue Enforcement Notices in instances where the risk due to poor LEV design or operation is found to be moderate to substantial
What Can Employers Do To Ensure Compliance?
- Work out which jobs and activities cause exposure and require LEV systems
- Make sure all local exhaust ventilation systems are installed properly and work effectively
- Make sure all system have airflow indicators (or equivalent)
- Make sure there is a user manual and log book for every system
- Ensure that all LEV systems are properly maintained and inspected ‘annually’
- Ensure that employees are trained to use the LEV properly
How Can We Help You?
- We will gladly send you an electronic copy of the employer or employee guidance booklets to read
- We will be able to offer LEV advice to employers in writing or by phone
- We are able to provide a free-of-charge service to evaluate your processes and Local exhaust ventilation systems to ascertain if further changes are required to ensure compliance with the COSHH Regulations and associated guidance notes