HSE LEV testing tips

Soldering produces a narrow but expanding directional rising plume of fume with a high concentration gradient making it a high strength source. The plume of fumes is highly variable and prone to disturbance by ambient air movements. Uncontrolled soldering causes high personal exposures in the breathing zone; this can be 20 – 50 times the S.T.E.L dependant on the soldering scenario. This can equate to exposures exceeding the 8-hour TWA W.E.L after only 15 minutes of soldering. General ventilation at 5 air changes per hour (ach) per hour was not sufficient to control personal exposures, but was capable of reducing background exposures within the test room.

CoSHH regulations require most LEV systems to be thoroughly tested at least once every 14 months. This applies to all oil mist, welding fume, smoke and dust extraction units that you currently have on site. This examination must be undertaken by a competent person and the tests and reports must conform to HSE standards. HSG258 provides the recommended procedures to achieve these statutory requirements.

According to the HSE, around 13,000 workers in the UK die each year from historic work-related exposure to airborne contaminants at work leading to lung disease and various cancers. These figures are estimated to be attributed to past exposure, primarily to chemical and dust at work.

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 more details at HSE LEV Testing.

This guidance explains how local exhaust ventilation (LEV) can help employers effectively control exposure to gas, vapour, dust, fume and mist in workplace air by extracting the clouds of contaminant before people breathe them in. It describes the principles of design, installation, commissioning, testing and examination of proportionate ‘ventilation controls’.