What is LEV?
Local Exhaust Ventilation is concerned with the extraction of dust and other micro-particles including gas and vapour. Forming part of the regulations regarding the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH), LEV is a system designed to prevent inhalation or absorption of any hazardous materials.
The requirements of LEV are:
- Collect and trap any air that is identified as containing contaminants
- Remove and hazardous substance from areas where people work
- Contain any dangerous substance safely
- Clean the air and provide a robust reporting method that provides accurate data regarding the cleanliness of the air in the working environment and the effectiveness of the measures taken to remove contaminants.
What are your responsibilities with LEV?
COSHH regulations are enforceable under UK law. To comply with regulations, the employer must assess the risks to health arising from hazardous substances created by the work activity, and then decide what precautions are needed in order to prevent or adequately control exposure.
The regulations have a hierarchy of control measures which must be followed. If it is at all possible, the activity or process must be changed so that hazardous substances aren’t used or generated, or a safer alternative should be put into place. If prevention is not reasonably practicable, exposure should then be controlled by methods such as ventilation or enclosure.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be the last control measure to be used and this is the last line of defence. The employer must then make sure that all control measures are properly used and maintained. If necessary, Monitoring of Exposure and Health Surveillance must be provided.
What changes can you make to comply with LEV?
Employees must always be properly informed, trained and supervised. Just having HSE safety data sheets on file is not sufficient to comply with COSHH requirements. You must:
- Change your method of work so exposure to hazardous substances can no longer occur
- Substitute the material being used by something safer
- Reduce the size of the source
- Modify the process to reduce the duration or frequency of emission
- Reduce the number of employees involved with a process
- Apply simple controls, e.g. fitting lids to equipment
For more information about other ways of eliminating or reducing airborne contamination at work, take a look at the HSE COSHH website.