What is LEV?
Local Exhaust Ventilation is concerned with the extraction of dust and other micro-particles including gas and vapour. LEV forms part of the regulations regarding the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH). Essentially, the design and installation of a LEV system is 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, employers must assess the risks to their employees health as a result of the hazardous substances, and/or the toxic emissions that day-to-day work activities produce. A this point the employer must then decide what precautions they need to take in order to prevent or adequately control their teams exposure to the hazardous substance.
The regulations have a hierarchy of control measures which you must follow methodically. If at all possible, you must change the activity or process in order to limit or stop the generation of the hazardous substances. You can often source and implement safer alternatives to achieve this, in addition to your exhaust ventilation system. If prevention is not reasonably practicable, you can significantly control exposure with effective ventilation or enclosure.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be the last control measure that you use. This is because PPE presents a last line of defence against the hazardous substance. As the employer, you must then ensure that your teams use and maintain all of the control measures, for longevity and safety. If necessary, you must provide Monitoring of Exposure and Health Surveillance systems.
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.