As an employer required by Health & Safety to provide a Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) system to protect your workforce from hazardous dust and fumes, your responsibility not only lies with the system installation but also ensuring it is maintained and regularly tested.
COSHH Regulation 7 requires you to prevent or control the exposure of your employees to substances that are hazardous to their health and one of the things to consider in complying with this is the installation of adequate ventilation. Your responsibility does not, however, end with the installation of an LEV system.
Under COSHH Regulation 9 you must ensure that the LEV system is:
“maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order, in good repair and in a clean condition”
Maintenance checks must be completed at least every 14 months and the test must be “detailed and systematic, carried out by a person who is competent and able to make an objective assessment of the LEV”.
So how do you select the right supplier to design, install, test and maintain your ventilation system and what are the implications of getting it wrong?
As with most products and services the obvious starting point for many is to use a search engine to find ventilation companies in their local area.
Whilst this approach will certainly provide a list of companies, how can you tell which one to choose? Similarly, if you obtain a number of different quotes how can you meaningfully compare them in order to make the right choice?
Let’s start by looking at some common pitfalls made by companies.
Common Mistakes in the Selection of a Local Exhaust Ventilation System Supplier
The following are some of the common mistakes made by companies when selecting a company to provide or service their LEV System:
- Often decisions on which supplier to use is based on locality and cost rather than any specific due diligence on the part of the company, leading to LEV systems that are not adequate for the specific process and source(s) causing exposure, or testing that is not sufficiently objective.
- Employer’s don’t fully appreciate the risks involved and therefore don’t supply adequate information to the supplier about their processes, substances used and activities for a correct assessment to be made as part of the system specification to ensure the correct system is provided for the risks involved.
- Adequate training by the supplier on how to use, check or maintain the system is not requested as part of the specification and therefore not provided. System checking or maintenance is often therefore not completed frequently or systematically enough.
- The provision of user manuals, performance benchmarks, schedules for the replacement of parts and a logbook for the system to record the results of checks and maintenance are not requested to enable the company to manage the system adequately.
What are the implications for your employees and business in selecting the wrong Supplier?
Selecting the wrong supplier for your LEV system not only puts your employees at risk of health issues such as Occupational Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis or pneumonia but can also lead to investigation and fines by the HSE for failure to meet all of your obligations.
In 2011 a Bristol joinery and staircase specialist was fined £3,750 and ordered to pay costs of £836.60 after being prosecuted by HSE for failing to ensure the Local Exhaust Ventilation System they had in place to control the exposure to wood dust was working in an efficient state and maintained in good repair.
Another case highlighted on the HSE website relates to a solderer who developed occupational asthma working for a large multi-national company in Gloucester. The company was fined £100,000 with £30,000 costs after being found to have failed to have adequate control measures in place or install an adequate fume extraction system.
Finding the Right Supplier for your LEV System
The following are some useful resources to help you understand what’s involved and make an informed choice when looking to select a supplier to design, install, maintain or test your Ventilation System.
L5 – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (Fifth edition)
This is the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance in relation to The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) and whilst it can be a bit heavy for some, it does spell out your responsibilities as an employer.
Check out page 31 for details of Regulation 7 and Regulation 9 can be found on page 48 of the download below.
Health & Safety Guidance 258 (HSG258)
Another useful resource is the Guidance Book 258 from HSE which describes the principles and good practice of deciding on, designing, commissioning and testing LEV.
Whilst it is primarily written as guidance for best practice for suppliers of LEV goods and services is it also a useful resource for companies and organizations to give them a better understanding of their requirements and the things to look for in the supplier.
HSE Lev Buyers Guide – Clearing the Air
This is a simple HSE guide to buying and using Local Exhaust Ventilation and includes a section specifically on how to select an LEV supplier with a list of questions to ask of them including:
- What experience they have in designing and providing LEV systems?
- What professional qualifications, memberships and experience do their engineers have?
- What industries have they supplied LEV systems to?
- Have they successfully applied LEV to similar processes or activities in your specific industry?
- Can they provide references, testimonials or examples showing successful installation of LEV systems?
We hope you find the above useful in helping you to decide on which supplier to use for your ventilation system.
If however, you still have further questions the team at Vent-Tech will be happy to help and can be contacted on 0117 9712163. Alternatively, check out the detailed resources section on our website that holds a wide range of information about LEV and other related topics.
This article was written by Adrian Sims, Managing Director of Vent-Tech- call him today on 01179 712163 to discuss your LEV requirements.