Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Importance of Maintaining Your Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) System

Each year thousands of workers in Britain develop occupational diseases from inhaling certain dusts, fumes or other airborne contaminants at work – all of which can be prevented by timely duct work cleaning and the installation of a local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system. The right ventilation system combined with regular duct work cleaning can help to clean the air in a workplace before people breathe in these harmful substances, which can lead to diseases such as asthma and lung cancer.

If your workplace produces dust, mist, fumes, gas and vapour then there may be a risk to the health of your employees. Therefore you should consider installing an LEV system.

Duct work cleaning – contact us now for a free, no obligation quote.

1.    Installation of LEV

An LEV is a ventilation system that removes dust, mists, gases and fumes out of the air so that they can’t be inhaled. An LEV will:
·      Collect the air that contains the contaminates
·      Make sure they are contained and removed
·      Clean the air and dispose of the contaminants safely

Legally business are obliged to control the risks from harmful substances (the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations). An LEV can help you achieve this.

Typically an LEV is made up of:
·      A hood to collect airborne contaminants at, or near, where they were created.
·      Ducts to carry the airborne contaminants away from the process.
·      An air cleaner to filter and clean the extracted air.
·      A fan of the right size and type to deliver sufficient “suck” to the hood.
·      Discharge – the safe release of cleaned, extracted air into the atmosphere.

LEV hoods come in a range of sizes: from tiny ones fitted to hand held tools, to large ones that are big enough to walk into. It is crucial that the hood matches the source you want to control as the most common reason for an LEV not working properly is an ill fitting or wrongly sized hood.

Selecting the right LEV supplier is crucial. Listed below are some pointers to help you with the process.
·      Request tenders, ideally from three contractors.
·      Provide a drawing of the area and the processes to be controlled.
·      Provide your specification for the work to be done.
·      Tell potential contractors about any environmental, fire and explosion requirements.
·      Ask potential contractors to visit the site to see the processes.

Once you have received tenders from potential suppliers. Don’t forget to ask potential suppliers the following questions:
·      What experience do they have of designing and providing LEV systems?
·      What are their professional qualifications, experience and memberships?
·      What other industries have you supplied LEV systems?
·      Have they got experience of providing LEV systems for your industry?
·      Can  they provide references and testimonials from past customers?

On installation the supplier should test the LEV to ensure it is working according to specification. Once commissioned and working you have a legal requirement to make sure your LEV system works properly.  To fulfill this you will need to regularly check and maintain the LEV system, including organizing regular duct work cleaning.

2.    Maintenance

Many employers buy an LEV system to protect their workers’ health but it doesn’t work. This may be because it is the wrong type or because it’s not properly installed, used or maintained.

One of the simplest forms of maintenance is regular duct work cleaning. Clogged or dirty ducts inhibit the ability of the LEV to suck out air at the required rate. And if the ducts are clogged with substances which are themselves harmful, then without regular duct work cleaning your LEV could be doing more harm than good.

Your supplier will provide you with a logbook and user manual. The logbook must be used to record all LEV checks and maintenance. The logbook should be kept for at least 5 years along with all examination and test reports.

Once your local exhaust ventilation system has been installed it is important to ensure that it works properly and actually protects people’s health:
·      It needs to be the right type for the job.
·      It needs installing properly in the first place.
·      It needs regular checking and maintenance throughout the year.
·      It needs testing thoroughly at least once every year.
·      It needs scheduled duct work cleaning at least once per year.
·      If you move the LEV, make sure it still works.
·      It needs an indicator to show it’s working properly.
·      You need to check that it works properly every time you use it.
·      You need to use it properly.

Each LEV must be checked daily for the following:
·      Does the indicator show the LEV is working properly?
·      Is it taking away all the harmful dust, mist, fumes and gas?
·      Are you close enough to it so it can do its job properly?
·      Are there any signs it is not working properly i.e. smells or settled dust.
·      Are there any unusual noises or vibration coming from it?
·      Has it been thoroughly tested, with a “tested” label that is within date?

Additionally most LEV systems need a thorough examination and test once each year (legally every 14 months) to make sure it works well and continues to protect your employees. This should ideally be combined with inspection of the ducts and scheduled duct work cleaning.  However, some need more frequent testing due to the nature of the processes they control.

3.    Training

You also must make sure that any employees operating the LEV are fully trained and the training should cover the following essentials:
·      The harmful nature of the substances you use.
·      How exposure may occur.
·      How the LEV system works.
·      Methods of working that get the best out of the LEV.
·      How to check the LEV is working.
·      The consequences of the LEV failing and what to do if something goes wrong.

Duct work cleaning – contact us now for a free, no obligation quote.

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