The Importance of Evaluating Contractors for Safe LEV Systems

Companies that use Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems know and understand the role they play in protecting employees’ health and safety. But choosing the right contractor to install these systems is crucial too. Unfortunately, a number of LEV testing companies have been reprimanded for providing false assurances in the past 12 months alone.

What is Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)?

Across many businesses in varying sectors, some manufacturing processes create dust and fumes, which can be harmful to workers if they are not controlled properly. Local Exhaust Ventilation, also called ‘extraction’ or ‘fume control’ is a process in which air containing harmful contaminants is suctioned away and filtered safely. Most systems will comprise of a hood that extracts harmful fumes and dust at source and a series of ducts that will carry the contaminated air away. The importance of LEV is underlined by the fact that breathing in contaminated air could lead to diseases such as asthma, lung scarring, and cancer.

A crucial aspect of using LEV is understanding how it works so that businesses can purchase the right systems for their requirements and know how to use them properly. Getting the right type of hood is the first important step and these will vary depending on the processes and tools being used. Some hoods are large enough to stand in while others are much smaller and can be attached to tools.

LEV Maintenance and Minimising Employee Risk

Companies buy LEV systems to protect their workers’ health. As established above, workers who are exposed to harmful dust or fumes can end up having serious medical complications such as lung disease and cancer. 

As such, having the right type of system installed by professional and competent contractors will have the biggest impact on protecting worker health. Therefore, companies rely on contractors to install their systems adequately and safely. 

Ensuring that LEV systems are installed and maintained correctly is critical. In fact, a number of enforcement notices have recently been served by the HSE on companies that test LEV systems.

Some test companies were providing inspection reports that falsely claimed that the LEV systems they had tested were adequate or in good working order. One ventilation company was fined for putting hundreds of workers at risk of conditions such as lung disease. The HSE even served Improvement Notices against the employers whose LEVs were tested but failed to appoint a competent person to thoroughly examine the LEV plant.

The lesson here is to do your due diligence on LEV contractors. LEV testers should have sufficient skills, qualifications and training. You can not only put your staff at risk but your business will be punished for failing to do the right checks on contractors too. Finding a competent contractor to install or maintain an LEV system is of huge importance. One way to do this is by seeking professional help by using trade associations or other professional advisers in the sector. The HSE website also has a wealth of information on how to choose and use LEV testers through helpful links and guides.

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