Soldering produces a narrow but expanding directional rising plume of fume with a high concentration gradient making it a high strength source. The plume of fumes is highly variable and prone to disturbance by ambient air movements. Uncontrolled soldering causes high personal exposures in the breathing zone; this can be 20 – 50 times the S.T.E.L dependant on the soldering scenario. This can equate to exposures exceeding the 8-hour TWA W.E.L after only 15 minutes of soldering. General ventilation at 5 air changes per hour (ach) per hour was not sufficient to control personal exposures, but was capable of reducing background exposures within the test room.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are the government body responsible for the regulation and enforcement of work related risks to people in the work place. Dust & fume exposure is a key element of the COSHH 2002 (Control of Substances Hazard to Health) regulations setting out exposure limits, preventative guidelines and on going reductions of the contact between people and hazardous gas and particulates. Under COSHH, companies must take steps to prevent, control, maintain and monitor dust and fume exposure in the workplace, as laid out in regulation 9.
According to the HSE, around 13,000 workers in the UK die each year from historic work-related exposure to airborne contaminants at work leading to lung disease and various cancers. These figures are estimated to be attributed to past exposure, primarily to chemical and dust at work.
All Companies and Employers using extraction equipment have legal requirements they must undertake. All equipment must be examined and tested in order to comply with Regulation 9 of the COSHH Regulations. The Employer must make sure that equipment is maintained and in efficient working order and of good repair. A thorough test should be undertaken once every 14 months and in some cases far more frequently. It is also a requirement of the employer to keep a suitable record of the test. All for a period of at least 5 years. This record should also include details of repairs carried out as a result of the test. See more info on https://www.weldingsuppliesdirect.co.uk/welding-equipment/lev-testing.html.
Where employers use or intend to use LEV they must ensure that it is appropriate for the task, installed and operated correctly and subsequently maintained so it continues to operate as when originally installed. Suppliers of LEV can play an important role in helping the employer with the design, installation and maintenance of the equipment. This guidance is therefore intended to help employers and suppliers as well as managers, trade union and employee safety representatives to work together to provide effective LEV so that workers are not breathing in hazardous substances. Different chapters will be more appropriate for different audiences.