SHAPA are the UK's leading specialist association for the solids handling and processing industry

All our members are established specialists within their fields, and have the experience and commercial standing to provide quality, cost-effective solutions for all aspects of mechanisation for bulk materials handling and storage, conveyors, dust collection and control, instrumentation, mixers, big bag handling, sampling systems, sieves, valves and weighing systems and equipment.

Safe to Breathe


For more than a century there have been efforts to improve air quality in the working environment, both in enclosed factories and other industrial areas. Even with scant knowledge of respiratory diseases it had been clear that people were more productive in a cleaner and better environment

CoSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations came into force in 2002 and were simply the culmination of decades of research and study to enable practical controls over workplace atmospheres to be established and monitored – practicality and effectiveness being the guiding principles. Over time dust extraction gradually became more of a quantifiable science, with particular attention paid to improving the health of the workforce employees as well as enhancing product quality. Latterly, however, the term Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) has come into use. More than merely dust control, it brought into focus fume, vapour and hazardous gases and HSE set about cementing definitions and establishing exposure limits for a huge range of airborne contaminants from ever increasing volumes of test data.

LEV has become the accepted name for the equipment for removing contaminants from workplace air, with HSE publication EH40/2005 Workplace Exposure Limits being its “bible” – albeit a regularly updated “bible”. It is obviously important to know what contaminants (or combination of contaminants) may be present, either produced by or inherent in the process involved. EH40 defines workplace exposure limits (WEL) that are allowable under CoSHH regulations. It is incumbent on the process owner, however, to minimise exposure to the operator by any practicable means, not simply to “dodge” just below the limit. Furthermore, EH40 describes how to determine exposure levels by means of time weighted averages (TWA) and short term exposure limits (STEL). As mentioned above, these apply to dusts, vapour and gases.

Dissemination of knowledge by properly structured training is vital to lasting success and maybe even avoiding the risk of prosecution for negligence. HSE produces guidance for employers and employees alike and employees are urged to get involved in their own respiratory safety. Dust and fume hoods should be seen to work effectively, with airflow indicators as an additional check. Airflow indicators alone do not guarantee effectiveness of the LEV system, but they should be checked regularly as part of the operators’ general duties, together with signs of undue dust deposits, unwanted smells etc. All defects must be reported promptly.

All parties should cooperate from the outset of the LEV design process. Suppliers should thoroughly understand the process machinery and material characteristics, ensuring that the LEV is easy to use and does not obstruct operator actions.

A competent company should be employed for “annual” testing, able to test accurately to standards and affix appropriate “tested” labels and offer advice as appropriate.

The complete LEV design, installation and testing service is available from within the SHAPA community of companies, to inspire real confidence at economic cost throughout the lifetime of the installation. Check out the Equipment Finder at or download one of the many LEV related technical documents which can be found at or email your enquiry to

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