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The HSE has launched the HSE LEV Project, which is aimed at improving LEV (local exhaust ventilation) exposure control and reducing occupational disease.

The HSE LEV Project publication provides useful ideas to improve employee protection.

Every year, thousands of British workers contract occupational asthma and other lung diseases.

They develop them because they breathe in too much dust, fumes or other airborne contaminants at work.

During 2006, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was mandated by government to reduce the number of work-related instances of respiratory disease; to achieve this, it targeted better understanding and enforcement of COSHH regulations relating to airborne particulates.

Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is a common and important method of controlling exposure.

But work by the HSE has shown it is often poorly designed, applied and maintained and doesn’t effectively control exposure.

The HSE has written new LEV guidance for employers (INDG 408), employees (INDG 409) and suppliers (HSG 258).

All HSE inspectors have participated in a one-day LEV training course.

From now on, on visits to premises that use LEV to control exposure, inspectors will verify that the systems are properly designed and installed and that inspections are carried out every year.

The Heath and Safety Laboratories (in conjunction with British Occupational Hygiene Society) will provide training for installers, examiners and employers.

HSE inspectors will issue enforcement notices in instances where the risk due to poor LEV design or operation is found to be moderate to substantial.

To ensure compliance, employers should work out which jobs and activities cause exposure and require LEV systems.

They should also ensure: all LEV systems are installed properly and work effectively; all systems have airflow indicators (or equivalent); there is a user manual and log book for every system; all LEV systems are properly maintained and inspected every year; and that employees are trained to use the LEV properly.

The HSE can offer LEV advice to employers and employees in writing, electronically or by phone.

It provides a free-of-charge service to evaluate processes and LEV systems to ascertain if further changes are required to ensure compliance with the COSHH regulations and associated guidance notes.

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