Updated: Apr 29, 2020
As a company who specialises in managing COSHH for our customers, Workplace Scientifics are continuously releasing insightful and useful information to help you create safer working environments and, with this article, our aim is to provide our readers with information explaining the benefits of employing a competent occupational hygienist to undertake workplace exposure air monitoring and LEV Thorough Examination and Testing in conjunction. Here we are explaining how the measurement of airborne contaminants can determine the effectiveness of a control system and support a thorough examination and test.
Any company which uses localised extraction should undertake a thorough examination and test (TExT) within a 14-month time frame. Some systems may require a more frequent TExT, particularly when they're used to control toxic or carcinogenic substances for example.
Companies need to meet this requirement under the COSHH Regulations and deliver such requirements in line with HSG258 Guidance.
COSHH management requires broad expertise to suitably manage many complex systems and approaches which involves the anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of substances hazardous to health.
Often COSHH is managed with the input of a competent occupational hygienist, and rightly so. In some situations, failing to manage COSHH can result in severe occupational illness through exposure. Employing an occupational hygiene professional is a justifiable investment.
Personal exposure assessment and workplace air monitoring works by fitting measuring equipment to an individual worker whilst undertaking a specific process or operation. The sampling equipment is set up in line with the approved methods of determination of hazardous substances, often drawing in a known volume of air through a suitable piece of media which captures the contaminant. Laboratory analysis is carried out to determine the quantity, of which calculations are applied to present a time-weighted average.
Personal exposure air monitoring takes into consideration the worker task and process variables whilst an LEV thorough examination and test involves gathering quantitative data on LEV performance. However, both assessments require a detailed qualitative assessment to support the overall findings by observing and analysing the processes, equipment functionality and worker behaviour.
Undertaking workplace air monitoring to measure the effectiveness of the LEV Systems in use allows for a deeper level of quantitative and qualitative data to be gathered and used to determine the effectiveness of the control systems.
It's not uncommon to have LEV systems which have passed a "performance test", often undertaken by insurance companies, and even found to comply with the COSHH Regulations following a thorough examination and test but airborne contaminants measured high based on a workplace air monitoring assessment. Often secondary exposures or control system inefficiencies are identified as part of this type of assessment as it focuses strongly on human behaviour, action and the process stages.
The benefits of combining the two methods of assessment are highly effective in ensuring the control of hazardous substances is being achieved and, if not; where the controls fall short within the process. To summarise:
Measuring workplace exposure by air monitoring will allow for the assessor to gather relevant qualitative and quantitative data, taking into consideration human factors such as behaviour, actions and physical movement throughout the process itself.
Obtaining qualitative and quantitative data of the LEV system performance through a thorough examination and test allows for the system to be evaluated in terms of gathering information of airflow and capture velocities.
A combination of the two assessments allows for a wider range of data to be obtained taking into consideration varied factors from an operational process perspective, human factors, substance identification and quantification, through to the evaluation of system performance by obtaining LEV design data, airflow measurements, conditions of components leading to inefficiencies or elevated risk through damaged equipment or ineffective discharging.
COSHH is regularly managed inefficiently, costing a company more money and more time investing in multiple surveys which ultimately lead to inconclusive data offering no solution. That said, if you employ the right people to undertake your COSHH project, they can advise on the most effective methods of assessing and testing processes saving you both time and money, leading to more accurate results, detailed conclusions and recommendations.
To conclude, undertaking an assessment which takes into consideration many factors from a process perspective, and a control performance perspective, you are ultimately allowing for more detailed conclusions to be drawn based on multiple levels of data being obtained by combining multiple disciplines of assessment.
We are here to help. As professional Occupational Hygienists, we are competent in managing COSHH and providing a range of assessments to help you quantify exposures and test control systems. Contact us today for more information:
(T) 01709 931299