As the coronavirus lockdown is starting to be relaxed, many manufacturing businesses will be restarting equipment that may have been sat idle for two months.
In order to ensure the safety of your workplace, you should complete a restart check before using certain equipment. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) is particularly vulnerable to damage without regular use; exhaust piping can deteriorate due to corrosive chemicals and oils resting in the venting.
Furthermore, equipment sat idle will inevitably accumulate dust. Restarting the equipment without taking precautionary measures will aggravate operational issues that may have gone unnoticed before the equipment was last shut down.
Pre-use checks can be broken down into two key elements:
- A Visual Inspection
- An Operational Performance Check
A visual inspection will reveal damage that may have occurred since lockdown or damage that has been overlooked before the machine was last shut down. A visual inspection for LEV should include:
- Filters which should be checked for build up or damage and replaced where necessary
- Alert systems such as alarms, warning lights and flow gauges should be checked to ensure they still work when equipment is being used
- Exhaust fans should be tested to ensure they remain effective
- Damper positions should be checked as compliant with the manufacturer’s specification
In addition to a visual check, it will be necessary to undertake a running inspection of the equipment. This will ensure it maintains its integrity whilst in use.
Operational Performance Check
Before equipment is restarted, it will be necessary to check that it remains functionally intact. A smoke test whilst the process is running will ensure that the hood remains able to remove airborne contaminants effectively. The use of a dust lamp will reveal the escape of dust, fume or mist from the capture zone.
Your regular monthly checks should also be included here.
LEV Thorough Examination and Test TExT
It should be noted that HSE will not be relaxing the need for routine TExT visits. TExT visits should still be carried out at least every 14 months in order to ensure compliance. Any visiting service providers need to adjust their routines to reflect the latest advice from Public Health England.
Enhanced Requirements Regarding Coronavirus
It will be clear that many things that we might have taken for granted no longer apply. We have recently become accustomed to maintaining a 2-metre distance from people; more thorough hand washing regimes; queuing outside shops; remaining at home if we have coronavirus symptoms.
In the same way, your working environment will need to be reassessed as ‘fit for purpose’ in light of increased requirements related to COVID-19.
Your Health and Safety Policy will also need to be revisited. Risk assessments and plans will need to reflect workplace changes as a result. It should be noted that the routine use of PPE does not exempt the user from social distancing regulations.
PPE must not be used as protection against the virus unless other protective measures have been exhausted. It will be helpful to accept the fact that policies will need to be frequently reviewed whilst you work towards your new normal.
We’re here to help
At Workplace Exposure, our expert team have experience working with a variety of different businesses to ensure they offer a safe, compliant working environment. Our professional solutions and advice help to ensure your business meets compliance standards and is operating to best practice. If you need help in carrying out an LEV Assessment and Inspection survey, or help with your return to work Risk Assessments, we’re here to help.
Get in touch with Workplace Exposure. Either give us a call on 0800 689 4386, or fill in our enquiry form to discuss your monitoring or consultancy requirements.
We’ll then provide you with a no obligation proposal, we can often give an initial idea of fees whilst we discuss your needs.
Once you’ve accepted our proposal we can then schedule the work.
Following our site visit we’ll provide you with a comprehensive report giving you advice, recommendations and control measures where appropriate. Implement the outcomes for compliance and a happier healthier workplace.