Many organisations in the UK are now preparing to return to the workplace after lockdown. It is important to consider how your working environment will need to be reviewed as ‘fit for purpose’ to guarantee worker safety.
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
Risk assessments and plans will need to reflect workplace changes, along with your Health and Safety Policy, to work alongside government guidelines and deliver a safe working environment. It should be noted that the routine use of PPE does not exempt the user from social distancing regulations.
All across the country, manufacturing businesses will be beginning to restart equipment which hasn’t been used in over 2 months due to the Coronavirus lockdown. However, as the lockdown is starting to be relaxed, the importance of a Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) restart check must be encouraged.
LEV Restart Check
This restart check is to ensure the safety of your workplace and is a vital step for certain equipment to operate correctly. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) may be damaged without regular use due to resting oils and chemicals in the venting. Similarly, the resting dust due to going unused may cause further problems and operational issues that may have gone unnoticed.
The pre-use checks which are encouraged are broken down into two elements –
- Visual inspection
- Operational performance check
Damage may have gone unnoticed since the last time the machine was shut down, the visual inspection will not only reveal this, but the damage which has accumulated since the beginning of lockdown. To also ensure the integrity of the equipment, a running inspection should be commenced whilst the equipment is in use to guarantee full working order. The visual checks should include:
- Alert systems such as alarms, flow gauges and warning lights should be working whilst the equipment is in use
- Filters should be checked for build up or damage and replaced wherever necessary
- The effectiveness of exhaust fans should be tested
- Damper positions should be checked as compliant with the manufacturer’s specification
Operational Performance Check
Before the equipment is able to restart again, it will be necessary to check it remains functionally intact. These will be checks done before the equipment is back to fully working order and should include:
- A dust lamp – to reveal escaping dust, fume, or mist from the capture zone
- A smoke test – whilst the machine is running and will ensure that the hood remains able to remove airborne contamination
Regular monthly checks should also be included here.
LEV Thorough Examination and Test TExT
TExT visits are still required to ensure compliance and HSE will not be relaxing the requirements of a visit which are to be carried out at least every 14 months. Any visiting service providers need to adjust their routines to reflect the latest advice from Public Health England.
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