Does the law require me to get my Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) examined and tested?

26 October 2012

LEV is used within most joinery workshops to control a wide range of potentially harmful substances which may include wood dust, gases and vapours, fume and solids. The 2002 COSHH Regulations require that thorough examination and testing of LEV systems in woodworking establishments is carried out at least once every 14 months, with records of all tests kept for at least five years.

Although testing and maintenance of the equipment represents a cost burden on woodworking companies in these difficult times, with prosecutions of companies failing to control exposure to wood dust continuing at a high level, it is essential that BWF members can demonstrate compliance with their legal obligations in this area.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 specifies that the person undertaking the examination and testing must be competent to do so. Carrying out a thorough examination and test of LEV equipment requires specialist skills and although it is possible to undertake this on your own, most businesses engage someone with specialist knowledge, experience and skills. It is essential that the work is being undertaken by trained staff who are familiar with the latest guidance on the examination and testing of LEV, which is given in the Health and Safety Executive's publications HSG258 "Controlling airborne contaminants at work: A guide to local exhaust ventilation (LEV)", or  "Clearing the air  - A simple guide to buying and using local exhaust ventilation (LEV)".

The comprehensive examination and testing of an LEV system will involve three stages:

• A thorough visual examination,

• Measuring technical performance,

• Assessment of the LEV system's control effectiveness.

The report provided on the LEV system should clearly show whether the equipment is meeting its intended performance and if it isn’t, then what is wrong and what needs to be done to correct it. The company will have to act on the recommendations in the report.

In addition to the examination and testing of the system, a visual check of the equipment should be carried out by maintenance staff at least once a week. Employees using the system are obliged to report any defects as soon as they are noticed.

Key messages for when using LEV

• Manage the checking and maintaining of the LEV system
• Train employees to use the LEV properly (ask supplier for help)
• Follow instructions in the User Manual (or equivalent)
• Fill in the Log Book and get repairs done
• Get the LEV thoroughly examined and tested 'annually'
• Use the thorough examination report as an 'audit'. Improve if necessary

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