EST 1992





Air Quality Testing

What is the Legal Requirement?

In the UK, it is a legal requirement to ensure that the quality of breathable air being supplied to an operator is at a suitable standard. Air quality testing is required to ensure levels of harmful substances are low and do not stand as a threat to employees, under the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL). This means the maximum allowance of a hazardous substance in the air over a period of time.

The objective of these legal requirements is to ensure the respiratory safety of operatives entering and working in areas considered to be hazardous to health. WEL covers over 500 hazardous substances, including chemicals, dust, vapours and gases. 

Criteria for breathing air:
BS EN 12021:1999
BS 529:2005 (supersedes BS 4275-1997)

COSSH Regulations 
 COSHH states that:

‘As an employer, there is a clear responsibility under the requirements of the HSE to provide fit for purpose safety equipment for all employees that may work in an environment or carry out a process which may be hazardous to the employee’s health. Should an employer fail to provide and maintain this equipment, they will be liable for any damages claimed by an affected employee.’

In the above statement, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) details the importance and legal requirements a business has for air quality testing. According to their guidance, an air quality test should be conducted at least once every 3 months and continuously in situations where the supply of air quality cannot be assured. 

Any defects observed should be remedied before further use.

The table below illustrates the maximum permissible limits of contaminants found in the air as specified in BS EN 12021:1999

BS EN 12021:1999

21% +/- 1%

Must be as low as possible but not more than 15 ml/m3
Not more than 500 ml/m3
Not more than 0.5 mg/m3
Should your site’s COSHH risk assessment require that tests are conducted on any specific contaminant levels, these can be conducted, on request. BS EN 12021:1999 requires that: Compressed air for breathing apparatus shall not contain any contaminants at a concentration which can cause toxic or harmful effects. In any event all contaminants shall be kept to as low a level as possible and shall be far below the national exposure limit.
The acceptance criteria under BS EN 12021:1999 is: Air up to 40 bar for compressed airline breathing apparatus should have a pressure dew point sufficiently low to prevent condensation and freezing. Where the apparatus is used and stored at a known temperature, the pressure dew point should be at least 5°C below the likely lowest temperature. Where the conditions of usage and storage of the compressed air supply is not known, the pressure dew point should not exceed -11°C.
Note: The purpose of the periodic testing of air quality is to ensure that the control measures you have put in place are delivering air quality as indicated in the table above.

Why Air Quality Testing is Important

For an employer, it is vital that air quality testing becomes the norm in the workplace. Especially in warehouses or factories, there may be a higher chance of hazardous indoor air pollutants. There are many benefits to hiring a reputable air compressor company to perform air quality testing:

  • An air quality test will ensure your business is abiding by the COSHH regulations, making sure any substances do not exceed the legal limitations
  • Ensuring equipment is working properly and is not adding any more harmful pollutants into the air
  • Boosting staff morale by showing their health and safety is a priority
  • Making sure the right PPE is in place

At Compressed Air Systems UK, we offer a comprehensive air quality testing service that is completely tailored to you and your company’s requirements. This can either be a single test or at multiple locations. 

On completion, you will receive a copy of the results and if any air quality test fails for whatever reason, our engineers and technical department are on hand to offer advice.  

With over 30 years of experience, our air compressor specialists have a range of filtration and purification equipment designed to exceed the breathing air recommendations listed above. We offer air quality testing at competitive rates, catering to whatever you need.

Based in Birmingham, we cover the entire city and the surrounding Midlands region. So, if you’re interested in any of our services, or looking for “air quality testing near me”, please contact us at 0121 753 3330 and speak to one of our experts today.

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