Insurance company LEV tests are not HSE compliant
Companies who have their LEV systems tested by insurance companies to ensure they are covered against potential prosecution claims are finding that in fact, they aren’t.
Insurance LEV tests are not 'Thorough'
Whilst insurance companies do offer to test LEV systems, this is very unlikely to be a 'Thorough Examination and Test' (often known as a TExT). Confusingly, this is not always clear from the report itself, with companies using wording such as ' Initial Thorough Examination and Test' which we feel is misleading. From the evidence we have seen, very few insurers are completing a TExT in accordance with the COSHH regulations.
What does this mean for companies?
What this effectively means is that if you have an LEV test performed by your insurance company, this does not mean you are covered by your insurance if your company is found to be in material breach of the law including exposing people to hazardous substances. In addition because this test is not as extensive as a Thorough Examination and Test, then they are less likely to pick up on any issues with the system.
This in turn means that you are at risk of both HSE fines and potentially paying out huge sums in damages to your employees if they become ill, because the HSE will say that you have failed in your obligation to carry out a Thorough Examination and Test. We should add that a TExT on its' own is not enough - the system also needs to be maintained properly in between tests to fulfil your HSE obligations.
Why has this happened?
The cost of claims against insurance companies has risen over the last few years - at least partly driven by an increased number of prosecutions by the HSE of companies who are not offering their workers the right protection from exposure to dust or fumes. This opens the doorway for employees whose health has suffered to seek redress from that company. We at Vent-Tech know of a company who recently settled out of court at a cost of £400,000 to that company for one worker - imagine if others were to sue too?
We understand that this increased volume of both the number of claims and also the value of them, in combination with the HSE requiring LEV testers to do more within a TExT is what has driven insurers to say that their tests do not constitute a Thorough Examination and Test. This is something that they should also be explaining to their clients as part of their 'Report of Examination' or 'Report of Test', and informing them that they will need a TExT carried out in addition, but we don't believe that this is always being done clearly.
The law is very clear that systems must go through a Thorough Examination and Test at least once every 14 months and even more often in some cases. Companies who do not ensure this happens and/or who do not maintain their systems properly are at risk both of harming their employees' health and finding themselves being prosecuted by the HSE or sued by individuals whose health has been damaged.
What action should you be taking?
If your LEV test was carried out by your insurance company, you need to check with them whether the test is a proper Thorough Examination and Test. If (as in most cases) it is not, then you will need to ask a competent supplier, such as Vent-Tech, to carry out a detailed and truly THOROUGH examination and test.
If you are unsure whether the test you have had from your insurance company is 'Thorough', we are happy to have a look at it for you if you drop us a copy and let you know if it has been carried out in accordance with HSE regulations.
You should also ensure that the company you use for your TExT will make suggestions for improvements should your system fail - as well as ensuring that you service your LEV system properly (or employ a company to do so) as you are also required to keep it properly maintained.
If you have any questions at all about your legal obligations as far as installing, testing and maintaining ventilation systems please don't hesitate to give us a call or drop us an e mail - we're always happy to help.