Is is Time to Review Your LEV Strategy for 2017

HSE has made some big recent statements with several high profile prosecutions for businesses failing to deliver sufficient Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). Substantial fines and suspended prison sentences have resulted from inadequacies and poor decision making leaving the respective businesses with a gaping hole in their credibility and reputation.

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

Recent HSE Prosecutions

Debilitating Lung Conditions from Metal Mist Exposure

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A manufacturer of ejector seats was fined £800,000 after three workers developed debilitating lung conditions following exposure to working metal fluid mist. Three skilled CNC machine operators developed extrinsic allergic alveolitis after many years of years of exposure to the mist of working metal fluid. The lung condition, also known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, is a body’s allergic reaction to breathing in a substance and symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and joint pain.

Aylesbury Crown Court heard how the workers, who had served with the company for more than 20 years, were exposed to the working metal fluid mist over at least a three-year period. One worker has been so severely affected they have become virtually paralysed by the illness, another will never be able to work with metal working fluids again, a key material in the industry and a third must have special measures in place to ensure he never comes into contact with the substance.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the measures in place within the factory to stop the exposure to workers were inadequate. The fluid is commonly used as a lubricant and coolant in engineering processes. During the process of using the machines, the fluid creates a mist, which in this case was breathed in by around 60 workers.

Inadequate Control & Ventilation at Woodworking Factory

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The director of a Port Talbot furniture factory and three of its managers have received suspended prison sentences for ongoing health and safety failings. Swansea Crown Court heard that the factory at Margam Hall Upholstery Limited was visited by the Health and Safety Executive in early 2015 in a planned programme of visits to woodworking premises.

Dangerous machines and hazardous substances, like wood dust and glue, make woodworking a seriously high-risk industry. A number of health and safety concerns were highlighted during the HSE’s visit including:

  • poor control of wood dust
  • no maintenance of work equipment including fume and dust extraction
  • noisy conditions
  • inadequate toilet and washing facilities

Protect Your Business with BenchVent

Of course, it is not just the fine/suspended prison sentences that will affect the directors of these companies – but possibly even more damaging will be the harm to their reputation as a good company to work for or with. A quick Google search for either of these companies will highlight these cases, meaning there is nowhere to hide should the HSE deem your business to be operating unsatisfactorily.

BenchVent supply fume extraction and ventilation products to a wide range of industries. Since inception in 1984, our knowledge and experience in the UK market has helped businesses maintain compliance with HSE regulations and protect both staff and the general public alike.

Our team can recommend clean breathing solutions to meet the requirements in manufacturing, research and technology to name just a few of the industries we have successfully assisted businesses in. Take a look at our case studies to learn more about the solutions or contact us today on 01423 790 039.