Thousands of people in the UK contract lung disease or asthma because they have been exposed to too many airborne contaminants in the workplace. Sadly, around 12,000 people a year in Britain suffer lung disease deaths linked to this problem.
When employees breathe in hazardous dust and fumes without the proper protection over a period of time, it can cause several potentially fatal respiratory problems. This is why companies who work with airborne contaminants as part of their day-to-day processes should install local exhaust ventilation systems.
There are various ways employers can protect workers including personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety goggles, face shields, visors, gloves and respiratory protective equipment (RPE) options.
As one of the most effective methods, LEV systems remove airborne contaminants, so workers don’t run the risk of breathing them in.
What is local exhaust ventilation?
Every year, thousands of employees all over the world contract occupational lung diseases as a result of exposure to airborne contaminants. Some of the most serious diseases and disorders include asthma, pneumoconiosis and respiratory cancers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, to name but a few.
A local exhaust ventilation system is designed to protect workers in various industries who are continually exposed to hazardous particles in the air.
Contaminants that can impact employees’ health include mist from paint spraying, flour dust in bakeries, fumes from welding and solvents from painting, for example. A well designed, maintained and operated LEV system can remove airborne contaminants before employees breathe them in.
A properly designed LEV will collect the air containing the contaminants, ensuring they are safely contained and taken them away from workers. It will clean the air when necessary and safely get rid of the airborne contaminants.
There are various designs of LEV systems to suit the different kinds of jobs in industry. As the UK’s leading manufacturer of downdraught benches and cross draught extraction systems, AirBench Ltd currently has more than 10,000 extraction systems in service in Britain and overseas.
Along with our range of air cleaning systems and coolant mist filters, we are actively helping businesses across many different industries to solve their workplace dust and fume issues.
What factors should employers take into account?
The main LEV elements include a point where airborne contaminants enter the system; ducting to transport the particles to a filter, cleaner and exhaust point; an air cleaner; an air mover fan to power the system and a safe air exhaust discharge point.
When choosing a local exhaust ventilation system, employers should consider various things related to the industry in which they work: before installing the system, employers must have a good understanding of the contaminants and the demands of their production processes. Will the system need to deal with changing materials processes? If so, will you need to build in flexibility to counter this from the start?
When using LEV to control workforce exposure, the employer must assess the hazards to be controlled thoroughly, while carrying out a risk assessment. They must be satisfied the LEV system is fit for purpose and that employees are trained to know how to use it correctly.
The system should be regularly maintained to remain effective, while ongoing records must be kept in order to demonstrate the system continues to be effective. Understanding exactly what hazards need to be controlled is vital to ensure the design is appropriate to achieve adequate control.
Liaising with a professional LEV system supplier and installer will answer all your queries before going ahead. This way, you can avoid making a potentially expensive mistake that might impact workers’ health in the long term.
The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for making sure Control of Substances Hazardous to Health laws (COSHH) are adhered to at work. They will take action against errant companies who fail to protect their workers!