In order to meet their legal obligations, under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH), companies have their LEV systems thoroughly examined to meet the requirement of COSHH regulation 9 and undergo Air or Personal Monitoring to meet the requirement of COSHH regulation 10.

These two activities are inextricably linked as both are crucial to ensure effective control of a substance is being achieved. If companies employ a specialist provider such as SML then the LEV thorough examination and the air monitoring will both be undertaken at the same time. This enables both sets of results to be scrutinised by the competent person to positively declare the substance is being effectively controlled.

However, many companies choose to have their LEV thorough examinations and air monitoring carried out by separate providers. Legally, this presents no issue as both activities are carried out by specialist within their individual field.

This, however, places the scrutiny of the individual reports more with the responsibility of the end client to compare the results of the two and determine if control of a substance is being achieved. It also has to be said, competent persons undertaking LEV thorough examinations should be requesting sight of the results of air monitoring in order to supplement their examinations. However, in practice this is not always the case, sometimes because they simply fail to ask, or, as Air Monitoring is usually managed by Health and Safety teams, and LEV thorough examinations by Engineering teams, they simply do not know where to find them.

In situations such as this, a more collaborative approach is needed by end users, to cross reference results. An LEV system may perform sufficiently to pass a thorough examination, but due to its design or how it is used, control of the substance may not be achieved. On the flip side, results of Air Monitoring may be at or just below the WEL, but an LEV system may be underperforming or defective so control could be improved. Remember the general requirement after prevention is always to adequately control exposure.

High levels of defects on LEV systems are a common occurrence. As a result, most systems do not perform to their optimum. Maintenance of LEV systems is an integral requirement of COSHH regulation 9, but maintenance under PUWER regulation 5 also applies. Therefore, it is imperative that a robust maintenance program is in place for LEV equipment sufficient to satisfy the legal requirements, but also to ensure exposure levels are kept to a minimum within the workforce.

For advice on Occupational Hygiene services, or any other Health & Safety matters, contact the team at SML.