Control of Substances Hazardous to Health
COSHH Regulations 2002 (as amended)
Local Exhaust Ventilation Plant (LEV)
The Regulations apply to all work activities where substances, which are potentially
hazardous to health, are used or produced.
They were originally implemented in 1988, enforceable from 1989 and replace some
fifty sets of previous legislation relating to specific industries and processes,
with a flexible and all embracing approach to all work activities involving hazardous
They have been revised on numerous occasions. However, the section of the Regulations
concerning LEV in the workplace have remained unchanged.
Asbestos, lead, materials producing ionising radiation and substances below ground
in mines are excluded from the Regulations as they are already adequately covered
by existing legislation. Also excluded are substances hazardous solely due to their
flammability or explosive nature or because they are kept at high or low temperatures
of high pressure.
In essence, previous legislation has been embodied into the COSHH Regulations with
certain additions, resulting in the requirement for all LEV, in a workplace controlling
fumes vapours gases or dusts from processes, to be thoroughly examined and tested
periodically. These periods vary from one month to six months and finally fourteen
months dependent upon the process and usage.
The basic requirement of the Regulations is that employers must assess the likelihood
of risk to the health of their employees and others from exposure to hazardous substances
arising from work activities
The Regulations state that following 1st January 1990 no work, which is liable to
expose anyone to substances hazardous to health, shall be carried on unless an assessment
has been made..
Except in all but the minor circumstances, it is envisaged that the assessment process
will need to be documented to prove the methodology.
The responsibility for undertaking an assessment lies with the employer and cannot
be delegated. However, this does not preclude the use of personnel both from inside
and outside the organisation. Indeed, where air-sampling or biological monitoring
is necessary for the assessment, recourse to outside specialists may be unavoidable.
Assessment is the key to compliance but control is the essence of the COSHH Regulations.
The traditional hierarchy of control is clearly established in these Regulations
EXPOSURE - MUST BE PREVENTED
if not reasonably practicable it must be:
CONTROLLED BY METHODS other than by:
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
if this is not reasonably practical
SUITABLE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT MUST BE USED.
Personal Protective Equipment therefore becomes lower in the order than engineering
or administrative control. Even so there are still situations where Personal Protective
Equipment is the most appropriate form of control, as in, for example, exposures
of short duration or maintenance operations.
Having assessed what substances likely to be hazardous to health are present, where
they are present and risk of exposure to that hazard exists, the next stage required
by the Regulations is the prevention or adequate control of that exposure.
Engineering controls are provided to control exposure, and LEV is a control strategy
which figures prominently in the legislation.
In all cases where engineering control measures are provided to control exposure,
they must be initially appraised then thoroughly examined and tested at specified
intervals in order to ensure that the control measures are still performing as originally
The results of each thorough examination and test should be compared with the initial
appraisal carried out under Regulation 6 and the requirement of Regulation 7 with
regard to control.
Where an initial appraisal has not been completed on LEV, no thorough examinations
and tests can be completed.
The HSB Service
The Health & Safety Executive are actively policing the Regulations and prosecutions
in the courts are being pursued along with the issue of prohibition/improvement
The HSE have recently published HSG258 “Controlling airborne containments at Work”.
This publication replaces the previous documents HSG37 and HSG54. It contains comprehensive
advice to owners of LEV systems as well as prescribing what competent organisations
must carry out when either Commissioning, Maintaining or undertaking periodic Thorough
Examination of such systems.
Liability Insurers are insisting on compliance with the Regulations before renewing
or incepting Employers Liability insurance's in some trades/industries.
HSB Engineering Insurance
have fully trained and qualified Engineers in place throughout the country to:
- Carry out initial appraisals with laboratory analysis of samples.
- Carry out periodic examinations of LEV Plant to prove the plant is still operating