What is Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)?

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Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems remove hazardous substances and contaminants from the air to protect workers and the environment – a critical safety concern for certain workplaces.

This blog explores what LEV is, why it’s important, and how to source a suitable system. It also discusses post-installation responsibilities and the key UK legislation related to LEV.

What is Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)?

Local Exhaust Ventilation systems extract and control airborne contaminants to protect workers’ health and safety. These contaminants include dust, fumes, gases, vapors, mists and aerosols. LEV systems consist of various components, including hoods, ducts, fans and filters, all working together to capture and remove contaminants at the source.

Why is Local Exhaust Ventilation Important?

Protecting Worker Health:

LEV systems safeguard employees’ health. Exposure to harmful airborne contaminants can lead to a range of occupational diseases, including respiratory issues, skin problems and even cancer. LEV systems play a vital role in preventing these health problems by removing or controlling the pollutants before workers inhale or come into contact with them.

Regulatory Compliance:

In the UK, strict regulations require employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, legal repercussions and damage to a company’s reputation. LEV systems help companies meet regulatory requirements by effectively managing airborne contaminants.

Increased Productivity:

Clean and safe working environments contribute to higher employee morale and productivity. Workers are more likely to be engaged and focused when they know their health isn’t at risk.

Environmental Protection:

Workplaces that produce harmful emissions or by-products can sometimes prevent the release of pollutants into the environment using LEV.

How to Source a Suitable LEV System?

Selecting the right LEV system for your workplace is a critical decision that requires careful consideration. Here are some steps to help you source a suitable LEV system:

Identify the Contaminants:

Begin by identifying the specific contaminants present in your workplace. Different LEV systems are designed to handle different types of pollutants. Understanding what you need to control is the first step in selecting the appropriate system.

Consult with Experts:

It’s advisable to consult with experts in industrial hygiene or LEV system design. These professionals can assess your workplace, recommend the most suitable system and guide its installation and maintenance.

Evaluate the Options:

Various LEV systems are available, including local exhaust, general exhaust and capture hoods. Compare the options and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.

Installation and Maintenance:

Proper installation and regular maintenance are crucial for the effectiveness of an LEV system. Ensure that qualified professionals install the system and that a plan is in place for routine inspections and repairs.

What Needs to Be Done Once an LEV System is Installed?

Once you have installed an LEV system, there are several essential steps to ensure it continues to function effectively:

Regular Inspection and Testing: Implement a schedule for regular inspections and testing of the LEV system to ensure it works as intended. This may involve checking airflow rates, filter conditions and the condition of ducts and hoods.

Maintenance and Repairs: Any issues identified during inspections should be addressed promptly. This may include replacing worn-out components, cleaning filters or repairing damaged ductwork.

Training and Education: Provide LEV awareness training courses to your employees. These courses cover the importance of the LEV system, how to use it correctly and general inspection and maintenance advice.

Documenting Compliance: Maintain detailed records of all inspections, maintenance and employee training related to the LEV system. This documentation is essential for regulatory compliance and accountability.

What Key Legislation is Associated with the LEV System?

In the UK, several acts and regulations relate to Local Exhaust Ventilation systems and the control of airborne contaminants. Here are some of the key actions and legislation related to LEV in the UK:

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA):

The HSWA is the UK’s primary legislation governing workplace health and safety. Under this Act, employers must ensure their employees’ health, safety and welfare. As LEV systems are essential for maintaining a safe working environment, they fall under the broad framework for workplace safety outlined in the HSWA.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH):

COSHH regulations cover hazardous substances in the workplace. Employers must assess risks, prevent exposure, and maintain LEV systems to control airborne hazards. Regular testing and training for employees are also required.

PUWER Regulations (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) 1998:

PUWER covers work equipment safety, including machinery and systems like LEV. Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of LEV systems, including proper maintenance and regular inspections, to prevent accidents and safeguard workers’ health.

HSG258 – Controlling Airborne Contaminants at Work:

HSG258 is a UK Health and Safety Executive guide that offers guidance on legal requirements. It provides detailed information on designing, installing, operating and maintaining LEV systems. The guide aids in the effective management of airborne contaminants in workplaces, emphasising the importance of efficient LEV systems.

Conclusion

LEV systems are indispensable to workplace safety. They protect employees’ health and ensure regulatory compliance. Selecting the right LEV system and maintaining it properly is key to realising these benefits.

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