Do I Need Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) Testing?

Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) testing is crucial for ensuring the proper functioning of your exhaust system. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 9 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) mandate that employers maintain their LEV systems in optimal condition. This involves initial testing of new systems and subsequent tests at least every 14 months. All test reports must be documented and kept for at least five years, regardless of whether the system had issues.

LEV systems are vital in environments where hazardous substances like dust, vapours, mists, fumes, and gases are present. These environments include bakeries, metal fabrication workshops, paint shops, laboratories, and storage warehouses. To ensure thorough and compliant LEV testing, a competent and accredited engineer must conduct the examination.


The Importance of LEV Testing

LEV testing is essential to protect employees and visitors from harmful substances. By identifying and addressing structural and operational issues in the ventilation system, LEV testing helps prevent exposure to dangerous dust, sprays, fumes, mists, and gases. This minimises the risk of illness or exacerbation of existing health conditions, ensuring a safer workplace.


Enhancing Staff Retention

Demonstrating a commitment to health and safety through regular LEV testing boosts employee morale and productivity. When employees feel valued and safe, they are less likely to seek employment elsewhere, leading to higher staff retention rates and, ultimately, increased company revenue.


Legal Compliance

Compliance with HSE regulations is mandatory for employers. Regular LEV testing helps you adhere to these laws, avoiding severe penalties that could damage your business. While avoiding fines should not be the primary motivation, it is a significant benefit of maintaining compliant LEV systems.


Preventing Negligence Claims

Although it is impossible to make a workplace completely risk-free, demonstrating proactive measures to prevent exposure to hazardous substances is crucial. Regular LEV testing and proper documentation can protect your business from negligence claims if an employee falls ill due to workplace conditions.


Legal Requirements of LEV Testing

LEV testing is compulsory under COSHH and HSE regulations, which vary based on the level of emissions and the nature of the workplace. Even businesses that do not handle dangerous substances directly, like offices, can contribute to air pollution through equipment like printers, which can produce harmful fumes over time.


Key Actions for Compliance

To comply with COSHH and HSE regulations, consider the following steps during the purchase, installation, and maintenance of your LEV system:

  • Identify activities and equipment contributing to air pollution in your workplace.
  • Define your expectations for the LEV system to guide your purchase decisions.
  • Involve employees in selecting or designing a custom LEV solution.
  • Ensure proper installation, functionality, and airflow indication of the LEV system, meeting all relevant industry standards.
  • Train employees on the correct operation of the LEV system.
  • Adhere to a regular repair and maintenance schedule.
  • Conduct comprehensive testing of the LEV system by a qualified professional at least every 14 months, as required by COSHH Regulation 9. Use the test reports to guide all repair and maintenance work.
  • Regularly clean the LEV system and replace components like air filters according to manufacturer recommendations.


Certification and Equipment Standards

While there are no explicit directives on using certified testing engineers, you must demonstrate the tester’s competency. The British Occupational Hygiene Society provides competency testing and certification for LEV testing engineers. These professionals should have P601 or P602 qualifications, or both, and follow the Methods of Determining Hazardous Substances published by the HSE.

LEV testing equipment must be calibrated to the highest standards, with the testing engineer relying on equipment from ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratories.


LEV testing is vital for maintaining a safe working environment and ensuring legal compliance. This process involves detailed assessments that inform the purchase, cleaning, repair, and maintenance of LEV systems. Given its complexity and significance, it’s essential to hire certified professionals with the necessary expertise to perform thorough LEV testing. With the right certifications and technical skills, we ensure your business meets all legal requirements and provides a safe workplace for your employees.