Coronavirus (COVID-19): update
Find out about using air conditioning and general ventilation during the coronavirus outbreak.
- All workplaces need an adequate supply of fresh air
- This can be natural ventilation, from doors, windows etc or controlled, where air is supplied and/or removed by a powered fan
- If you work in an office or shop, natural ventilation will normally be enough to control dusts and vapours from cleaning materials etc
- Sometimes planned, powered general ventilation is an integral part of a set of control measures, eg the welding of large fabrications in a workshop
Local exhaust ventilation
- Local exhaust ventilation (LEV), or extraction, is an engineering control solution to reduce exposures to dust, mist, fume, vapour or gas in a workplace
- Use a properly designed LEV system that will draw dust, fume, gases or vapour through a hood or booth away from the worker
- An extraction system should be easy for workers to use and enclose the process as much as possible
- It should effectively capture and contain the harmful substance before it is released into the working environment
- Air should be filtered and discharged to a safe place
- The system should be robust enough to withstand the process and work environment. It is important to maintain it and undertake tests to ensure it is working effectively
Things to avoid when applying LEV
Common errors in applying extraction are:
- the effectiveness of small hoods is usually overestimated – be realistic
- the hood is usually too far away from the process
- the hood doesn’t surround the process enough
- inadequate airflow
- failure to check that the extraction continues to work
- workers are not consulted, so they don’t understand the importance of extraction and do not use it properly
A worker in an electroplating factory developed occupational asthma. It was established that chemicals which can cause asthma were being used in the factory and contaminated air was reaching the workers. The worker had to take early retirement on medical grounds and was awarded compensation.
What the employer has done
The employer has since installed an extraction system to remove the chemical fumes and the risk of other workers developing occupational asthma has been reduced.