HSE LEV testing tricks

Colophony or Rosin Based Solder Flux Fume is a known cause of occupational asthma and as such exposure to it should be controlled. An effective method of engineering exposure control is to use local exhaust ventilation (LEV) to extract the fume at source. Personal exposure to solder fume was quantitatively measured in the breathing zone of a manikin, these exposures were then compared to those caused by uncontrolled soldering in order to assess five different LEV systems. The five LEV systems tested were a downdraught bench; an extracted bench top enclosure, a mobile capturing hood, an on-tip extraction system and a bench top fume absorber.

Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) is a machine that extracts air from a process as a way of controlling and reducing the exposure of workers to dust, fumes and vapor which could be hazardous to their health. It is a legal requirement, as set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, for any employer to maintain working conditions for employees. Any employer that uses LEV techniques in the workplace must have equipment examined and tested at least “every 14 months” to ensure it is working effectively and safely.

LEV Testing is a legal requirement in the UK for compliance with health and safety standards. LEV Test reports often form part of a company’s insurance policy. Inadequate testing can result in employers being prosecuted, insurance policies being invalidated and even employees becoming ill.

All Companies and Employers using extraction equipment have legal requirements they must undertake. All equipment must be examined and tested in order to comply with Regulation 9 of the COSHH Regulations. The Employer must make sure that equipment is maintained and in efficient working order and of good repair. A thorough test should be undertaken once every 14 months and in some cases far more frequently. It is also a requirement of the employer to keep a suitable record of the test. All for a period of at least 5 years. This record should also include details of repairs carried out as a result of the test. Read extra details at Local Exhaust Ventilation LEV Testing.

The employer decides who to employ or consult and needs to be an ‘intelligent customer’ to get the best result. HSE has produced simple guidance to help the employer choose a supplier when they are considering installing LEV (see HSE leaflet Clearing the air). Suppliers need to prepare their information to respond to this approach.

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