Thousands of British workers contract
occupational asthma and other lung diseases each year. They develop them
because they breathe in too much dust, fume or other airborne contaminants at
work. Even though the number of accident related deaths are reducing over the
long term, deaths due to exposure remain stubbornly high.
During 2006, the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) was mandated by government to reduce the number of work-related
instances of respiratory disease; better understanding and enforcement of COSHH
regulations relating to airborne particulates were thus targeted.
Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is a common
and important way of controlling exposure. But work by the HSE has shown it is
often poorly designed, applied and maintained and doesn’t effectively control
exposure. Consequently, they are running a major project know as the ‘HSE LEV Project’, that promises a
revolution in LEV exposure control and in reducing occupational disease.
The HSE Action Plan
The HSE has started by writing new LEV guidance for
employers (INDG 408), employees (INDG 409) and suppliers (HSG 258).
HSE Inspectors are to be delivered a one-day LEV training course (this has already
taken place between March and May 2008)
visits to premises that use LEV to control exposure, inspectors will verify
that that the systems are properly designed and installed, and that inspections
are being carried out ‘annually’
for installers, examiners, and employers is being provided on a continual basis
by the Heath & Safety Laboratories (in conjunction with British
Occupational Hygiene Society)
Inspectors are instructed to issue Enforcement Notices in instances where the
risk due to poor LEV design or operation is found to be moderate to substantial
What Can Employers Do To Ensure Compliance?
- Work out which jobs
and activities cause exposure and require LEV systems
- Make sure all LEV systems
are installed properly and work effectively
- Make sure all system
have airflow indicators (or equivalent)
- Make sure there is a
user manual and log book for every system
- Ensure that all LEV
systems are properly maintained and inspected ‘annually’
- Ensure that
employees are trained to use the LEV properly
How Can We Help You?
- We will gladly send
you an electronic copy of the employer or employee guidance booklets to read
- We will be able to
offer LEV advice to employers in writing or by phone
- We are able to
provide a free-of-charge service to evaluate your processes and LEV systems to ascertain if further changes are required to ensure compliance with the COSHH
Regulations and associated guidance notes