On a daily basis, thousands of UK employees are subjected and exposed to hazardous substances and subsequently, excessive Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs).
What are Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs)?
WELs (Workplace Exposure Limits) are measures set by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) that aim to provide a legal limit of concentration, or strength of a given substance in a workplace’s air over a period of time, TWA (Time Weighted Average). This guideline has been set to protect an employee by setting guidelines for work working conditions.
What’s the Difference Between Long-Term and Short Term Exposure Limits?
The effects of exposures from substances that are hazardous to health can vary depending on the nature of the substance and the patterns of exposure. So, the HSE set exposure limits into two categories, long and short term.
- The long term exposure is intended to restrict the total exposure over one or more shifts, typically 8 hours
- Whilst short term exposure limits are also known as STELs and are set over a 15 minute time period
How Can WELs Reduce the Risk to Health?
Many workers are exposed to a variety of substances, these can include chemicals, fumes, dust, fibres and vapours, which can, under some circumstances, have a harmful effect on their health. These are called ‘hazardous substances’.
If exposure to a hazardous substance is not properly controlled, it may cause ill health in a number of ways.
- Too much being taken into the body through breathing
- Being absorbed through the skin
- Being swallowed
- Or acting directly on the body at the point of contact, eg the skin
2020 WELs Update
In January 2020, the EH40/2005 Workplace Exposure Limits (Fourth Edition) guidance, which contains a list of workplace exposure limits for use with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended), were updated. Read all about it in our ‘ULTIMATE GUIDE: What are the Latest EH40 Workplace Exposure Limits?‘ blog.
Toxic substances have the potential to cause harm. Regular COSHH risk assessment should be completed so reasonably and practicable control measures can be put in place. We’ve put together a handy 7 Essentials Elements of COSHH Infographic to help businesses with risk assessments. By managing workplace exposure, you’re doing your part to help keep people safe.
It’s an employers’ duty to protect employees with adequate control equipment and measures to control substances exposure. This is typically done through the form of local exhaust ventilation systems and PPE (personal protective equipment).
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We’ll call to arrange a convenient time and date to visit your site. We’ll analyse your working processes, assess the substances used and the contaminants generated. We’ll work out how best to control the dust and fume in a way that’s in line with your COSHH risk assessment. Next, we’ll design you a comprehensive LEV system that adheres to HSG258 guidance and send this you to via email.
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HSE Workplace Exposure Limits Update
The HSE have been setting setting workplace exposure limits following the end of Great Britain’s Brexit transition period with the EU. The legal framework continues to ensure that standards of protection for those working with hazardous substances are maintained, as a robust and well-established regulatory framework is in place to protect workers from health risks associated with exposure to hazardous substances, through the use of the workplace Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002.
WELs form part of COSHH and are set for specific hazardous substances and must not be exceeded and exposure to asthmagens, carcinogens and mutagens must be reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable (ALARP). The HSE will continue to review and introduce new WELs, whilst developing the the long-term delivery model. HSE will continue to focus on those substances that can have most impact on reducing occupational ill-health cases. HSE will consider WELs set outside Great Britain. HSE will continue to review scientific data, evidence and an economic analysis, whilst sourcing independent expert advice on any individual proposals. Stakeholders will be consulted with on any new or revised limits to be introduced.
Whilst HSE’s approached is embedded, they’ll continue to consider and apply any limits set under the EU regime that are of significance to businesses in Great Britain.
Auto Extract Systems Ltd is the UK’s leading Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) company. Over the last 20 years, we’ve helped thousands of businesses create dust and fume free workplaces.
As experts in all things LEV, we can help your business become COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulation 2002 compliant with a tailored LEV solution. We provide comprehensive design, installation, maintenance and certification services across a range of industry sectors. Find out more about us here.