LEV inspections: our guide

LEV inspections have been brought back into focus following a recent report by the HSE that it has fined a ventilation testing company for providing customers with inaccurate results and putting hundreds of workers at risk.

In this article we cover:

  • What is an LEV inspection
  • What happens during an LEV inspection
  • What happens if a business fails an LEV inspection
  • LEV FAQs
  • FREE downloadable LEV inspection checklist

What is an LEV inspection?

As an employer you have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your employees by controlling the risks from these potentially hazardous substances to ensure This is covered by the Health and Safety at Work act, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

Depending on the nature of your business, this will often mean installing a Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) system. LEV is a ventilation system that removes potentially hazardous contaminants such as airborne particulate matter, dusts, mists, gases, vapour or fumes out of the air so that they cannot be breathed in thus safeguarding workers health.

The law says that a record of a thorough examination and test should be kept for each LEV installation to ensure the system is operating effectively and continuing to keep employees safe. It is recommended this testing is carried out at least every 14 months.

The HSE carry out regular, random visits of workplaces to ensure they are adequately protecting their employees and has the power to issue significant fines to companies that aren’t adhering to the guidelines. A regular LEV inspection is the best way to ensure your LEV system is meeting health and safety regulations and give you peace of mind that your employees are safe.

lev inspections

What happens during LEV inspections?

During an LEV inspection, also known as a Thorough Examination and Tests (TExT) or COSHH test, our skilled FEG engineers will collect all the information required by HSE recommendations HSG258 (third edition)

First, we will carry out an initial visit to your site to collect information about each of your LEV installations. If you do not have information about the original installation, although this is not ideal, our team have the knowledge and experience to carry out the testing anyway by referencing against first principles.

Testing is carried out to measure air velocities and take pressures at different points in your system. We will also carry out a visual test; this will take the form of either a dust lamp or smoke release test depending on the type of LEV system.

Each part of the system will be issued with a pass or fail sticker fitted in the HSE recommended location so it is clearly visible by the operator.

On completion you will receive a report with all the relevant information about your LEV system/s to be stored in your health and safety records.

It is important to remember that LEV inspections only check that the equipment is working as it was first intended. In some cases, it may be beneficial to carry out personal sampling to get a more accurate picture of worker exposure levels.

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LEV inspections checklist

  • Checking flexible ducts and mechanical integrity (including corrosion, damage, seals, dampers, and sash suspensions)
  • Checking the cleanliness of hoods (including canopies and duct interiors)
  • Ensuring airflow indicators, pressure relief or inerting systems, and alarm systems are working correctly
  • Checking for leaks
  • Illumination in booths and hoods
  • Monitoring noise levels
  • Water quality check (if relevant)
  • Make-up air (without draughts or blockages) and list spare parts, if relevant
  • Technical performance of the LEV system, including measuring static pressure target values in the duct, target velocities for each point, and the operators’ exposure compared to benchmark performance levels

What happens if I fail my LEV inspection?

Following your inspection your will receive a detailed report. If your LEV system is not working as originally intended and contributing to the adequate control of exposure to airborne contaminants, we will include advice on the advice and repairs necessary for it to do so. 

If required, FEG will provide a free quotation for any work and our skilled engineering team can then implement necessary repairs, a re-design or install a new system.

In addition to putting employee health at risk, failing your inspection may have implications for your business insurance and compliance with COSHH law, so it’s essential you rectify any highlighted issues as soon as possible.

LEV inspections FAQs

Why do I need to get my LEV examined and tested?

As an employer you have a legal responsibility to keep your workers safe from hazardous substances such as dust, fumes, and vapours. If the measures you adopt to protect your employees’ health include extraction systems (i.e. LEV systems) then you need to ensure they are maintained and working efficiently.

You should get your LEV system thoroughly examined and tested a minimum of every 14 months and keep this record for at least five years. You should also be able to provide your LEV examiner with information on the installed LEV system to confirm it provides adequate protection, in the form of an initial appraisal or commissioning report.

How do I choose someone to carry out the test and examination?

Although it is possible to undertake the test and examination yourself, it is very important that the person who carries out the testing is competent to do so. This usually means engaging someone with specialist knowledge. The examiner will use the information you provide about your LEV system’s intended performance and carry out tests and checks to ensure it is meeting this benchmark. They should provide a clear report that shows whether it is performing correctly and outlines any measures required to correct it if it is not.

The HSE describes competence as “…a combination of knowledge, skills and application experience that enables a person to do an effective and reliable job.”

 You should ask your examiner about relevant qualifications, training, experience, and examples of previous work. A good examiner will be able to provide testimonials from previous clients and offer training to your staff to maintain the LEV. Experience is often more important than qualifications.

Will the examiner label my LEV equipment?

There is no legal requirement for examiners to label LEV equipment that has been tested (unlike, for example, PAT testing). However, it is not always possible to attach labels, for example if the equipment is hot, or in a clean room environment, and it is your responsibility to keep a record of when testing is due and if any equipment has failed.

Although it is not a legal requirement, the HSE does recommend that a red ‘failed’ sticker is placed on any equipment that has failed. This should be accompanied by an emergency written report which clearly explains what is wrong and the steps that need to be taken to remedy the situation.

What happens if my LEV system fails its examination?

Your examiner will provide you with a report that clearly outlines why the LEV system has failed. With your agreement, they may also place red ‘failed’ stickers on hoods that have failed.

At FEG, we are happy to provide a free quote for any remedial work required. Our team have the knowledge and experience to carry out any required work, from simple repairs to a full re-design and install of a new system if necessary.

Once the repairs have been carried out, you should have the system re-inspected by a competent person to ensure it is effective and adequately protects workers.

How can FEG help?

Our skilled team have the required level of competence to carry out standard LEV inspections, condition surveys and reports. An FEG LEV examination and subsequent report provides employers with the confidence that their LEV system is operating correctly and that they comply with their legal requirements, or clearly details the improvements which need to be made.

As each LEV system is different, we provide a thorough custom examination and testing service for each LEV installation.

Examination and testing require an LEV user manual, logbook for regular maintenance/checks and a full commissioning report as specified by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommendations. If these are not available, our experience in the design and installation of LEV systems means we can assess against good design criteria and make recommendations accordingly. If necessary, we can then carry out further tests and provide the required documentation for compliance and testing in the future.

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Our team has years of experience of designing and  installing LEV systems, and carrying out LEV inspections.